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Adverts on

Richard Sambrook | 10:57 UK time, Thursday, 18 October 2007

Among its decisions about the future of the BBC yesterday, the BBC Trust also approved the launch of - which will mean international users of our website will see advertising on selected pages in the near future. There will be no change and no advertising for UK users. will encompass all types of content, but news will be at the heart of the site.

There are a number of reasons behind this decision. The bulk of the BBC is funded by the UK licence fee paid by every household with a TV in Britain. However, under the new BBC charter, we are not allowed to use licence fee funding for the benefit of international audiences. The BBC website has a large number of international users and advertising seems to be the obvious way for them to contribute to the costs of the site. In addition, profits from the site will be reinvested in the BBC's journalism and we believe will enable us to more strongly develop the site for international users.

Advertising around BBC News is nothing new for international audiences. BBC World TV news has been a commercial channel since its launch 16 years ago. Some World Service programmes are re-broadcast on commercial FM radio stations. As with both those examples, will carry the same public service journalism as it currently offers, but distributed on a commercial platform.

We will not be offering highly intrusive advertising and are taking significant steps to manage any potential conflict of interest between advertisers and editorial content to ensure our journalism is not compromised in any way.

We recognise that some users will be unhappy with this change. However in tests and surveys in advance of this change the majority of international users did not express a strong objection and a majority of those surveyed in the UK agreed with the principle of advertising for international users.

In the first phase, advertising will be introduced, probably next month, on selected high traffic pages visible only to those logging in from outside the UK. In a second phase, advertising will be rolled out across more of the site, again only when viewed from outside the UK.


So will the content be available to UK citizens when they are not in the UK?

Many of the services - such as text commentaries on sport - are great when I'm away from the UK, but it sounds like such services may not be available when outside the UK.

It also seems UK citizens will have to view advertising when accessing the bbc website from abroad - this seems to go against the license fee principle - how is this being resolved?

  • 2.
  • At 12:46 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Edward Buxton wrote:

I cant really see any problems with this. I travel abroad a lot and watch BBC World and I dont feel that the adverts affect the journalistic values of the BBC. Also CNN, Sky and almost all other international broadcasters carry advertising on their channels and sites. I cannot see how or why it will affect international readers of BBC News.

  • 3.
  • At 12:46 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Your decision to include advertising is understandable in these days of rising costs, world angst and international troubles.

However, having to endure advertising and NOT be able to access videos and programming because I'm not a Windoze user is rather irksome.

Ian Brumell
Cloyne, Canada

Sounds like a good decision. Being a non-UK user having to put up with some adverts would be the least problem. If it would help finance the work of 'the BBC', let's have some more!

Frank Mélotte
The Netherlands

  • 5.
  • At 12:50 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

I am really pleased at this announcement. UK licence fee payers fund this website.

It's only right that people who don't pay the licence fee see adverts (if that's the best revenue-generating model).

By showing adverts outside the UK, the BBC can generate extra revenue to continue doing what it does best, to the benefit of the UK.

  • 6.
  • At 12:53 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

When will the BBC go the whole hog and make it's iPlayer available for international users for a fee or with advertising?

Further, I'd happily pay some sort of 'license fee from abroad' to access mainstream BBC content via the web, which would include news and programming.

The BBC will always have it's critics when it comes to editorial neutrality, but for me, the quality is generally excellent (though gender research only ever seems to be reported from the field of evolutionary psychology, which is not the most sophisticated in their approach to gender).

And there I was earlier wondering what the hell was going on, as footage of the Rio Drugs Bust played second fiddle to a terribly juxtaposed Delta Airlines Commercial.

'We will not be offering highly intrusive advertising' you say?

James, Bratislava

  • 8.
  • At 12:56 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • John, Devon wrote:

Like those you surveyed I have no problem with this in principle.

But it's a slippery slope - with the best will in the world news sites supported by advertising are not seen to be as independent as

You depend on your credibility. So the welcome words about making sure advertising doesn't compromise editorial independence will need careful watching!

And how long before it's proposed to have advertising (if only for BBC content) on the UK site? After all, BBC TV is full of internal advertising now, in the guise of programme trailers.

  • 9.
  • At 12:56 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • richard upton wrote:

As a daily user of the BBC international news site I am saddened to hear about your plans to introduce ads. As has happened here in Australia (to SBS TV) when ads are introduced quality and usability drops – but far worse one can no longer trust the independence of the service. I would far rather pay to use the BBC international service that see any kind of advertising.
It will be tragic to see one of the last bastions of free-speech thus comprised. (And I am sure many at the BBC will agree with me.) So where do we turn now? To the bloggers? Lord help us!

  • 10.
  • At 12:57 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Aidan in Dublin wrote:

A lot of us outside the UK get an excellent service from this website and we have no reason to object if it is to carry a few ads. I will resume this comment after these messages:


The BBC's first loyalty is to its domestic licence-paying audience and I respect that. I only hope that the ads do not become too intrusive.


Best of luck and I hope you continue providing an excellent service.

  • 11.
  • At 01:00 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Roy wrote:

I was recently overseas and loaded up a new summary from and was bombarded with an advert. Clearly I pay a license for the BBC throughout the year (not just when I am in the UK) so why should the service I receive be so diminished when I am outside of the UK? I would be happier if I were able to let the license fee collecters know when I out of the UK and have my payments frozen for that period - it would be fairer and reflect the service that I am losing out on when overseas. However I don't suspect that this will ever happen. Ho hum.

  • 12.
  • At 01:01 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • martin woodhouse wrote:

why is the license fee so cheap. if you add inflation and as a rough guide money doubles every ten years, then the license fee should be £160 by 2008. has anyone raised this issue?

  • 13.
  • At 01:02 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

As an overseas user, I am not adverse to adverts paying for my use but I only hope that your IT staff are up to the technical challenge. Your recent foray into advertising for video segments was badly done. Videos are now preceded by the ONE advert you apparently have (this gets annoying very quickly) and the main video frequently does not show. If it does, it still appears as a barely visibile tiny window. This is not my idea of broadband video.

  • 14.
  • At 01:04 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • T. North wrote:

I hope I am not the only loyal BBC listener/reader/watcher outside the UK that will feel somewhat aggrieved by this decision to advertise on the BBC website. It is one of the last bastions of non-commercial public information whose editorial basis was not swayed by monied interests, however well intentioned. Speaking as one who consciously avoids the new-for-profit media so prevalent in the West, I will be left wondering where to find non-partisan, balanced information delivered in a calm, professional manner such as I have grown accustomed to from the BBC external services.

I hope you are not putting profit before purpose.

  • 15.
  • At 01:05 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

I'm a UK citizen living abroad and the BBC website is a lifeline. I've no objection to advertising, as long as we can still access exactly the same content, not a watered down 'international' version.

  • 16.
  • At 01:05 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

I agree with Mark in post no 6. I'm a Brit living in Greece, and would pay an international licence fee to be able to access BBC programming online. In fact, I'd rather pay than have those irritating Delta/BA ads that another poster mentioned.
The BBC could make a lot of money allowing international access to its current, and back, catalogue. I wanted to listen to a radio 4 play from 2006 the other day. It's not available. Why not? It was recorded digitally, available on the website for a week, then taken down. All digital content, however old, should be available, and non-licence fee payers like me should have to pay to access it. I agree, though, that licence fee payers who are travelling abroad shouldn't have to pay. Not sure how that can be done, but there must be a way.

As a UK user, I have no problem with this approach at all. As another commenter mentioned, though, I think that there is some demand for a non-UK license fee so that international users can watch BBC content without adverts.

  • 18.
  • At 01:11 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Gene Cash wrote:

No web advertising for me!

I have the adblock plugin and don't have Flash installed, so I haven't seen any ads for nearly a couple of years, since the days of "punch the monkey and win a prize". Do they still have those?

Of course there are the Flash-based sites which I can't see, but I've discovered that those are relatively content-free, so it's no loss. Plus it's easy to boycott a company for having a Flash-based website when you can't buy anything from them.

I also used to watch very little TV as I find the ads irritating and intrusive, but my new Linux-based DVR allows me to easily snip out commercials. Yay for technology!

  • 19.
  • At 01:11 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • kieran Mc Nally. wrote:

It would be nice if you left a switch adverts off option for those of us who do mind.


  • 20.
  • At 01:13 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ian G wrote:

I have to say I have no problem with this, so long as they stay unobtrusive.

However, using this model, I see no reason for iPlayer content not to be available for international users as well. If it wasn't made available to international users, then I would begin to be annoyed about advertising.

Just don't let ads creep into the UK section.

I'm OK with the adverts, (because my browser blocks them anyway) but one thing about the news item confused me. In the news item on it said overseas visitors cost the Beeb more because they required "overseas servers". What on earth does that mean? Web servers can be anywhere. I run three websites from a server farm in Delaware, in the US, and they can be accessed worldwide. It doesn't cost any less to ship bits from London to Folkestone than London to San Francisco. I don't pay some sort of special fee when a website of mine is accessed from Bangalore or Paris or even Notting Hill.

Why not have a system where international users can pay a subscription to not see the ads.

Then when they login to they see no ads, but when logged out they see the ads.

  • 23.
  • At 01:14 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Martin Goldsack wrote:

The inclusion of advertising on the BBC website can only call into question the BBC's much vaunted neutrality. What will happen if a news item reflects badly on an advertiser or their products ?

Also, although I am located in the UK, the corporate internet gateway I use when at work is in Germany - this already means that I have to put up with repetitive adverts if I wish to view video content. This has already dissuaded me from accessing such content.

  • 24.
  • At 01:14 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

I think most people here in the UK pay their license fee accepting that it will pay for TV and radio. The website is an 'added extra' and - as far as I'm concerned - should be entirely self-funding. I don't see the problem with placing ads on the UK version as well as for international visitors.

  • 25.
  • At 01:16 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Tim BALES wrote:

I am a British Citizen living in Japan. It seems that already, when I watch certain news video clips on the BCC website, that they are preceded by a short advert. This is so frustrating when one is used to a watching an advert free BCC.

The BCC is deeply respected in the world over and especially so here in Japan. The BBC is a symbol of good British values and freedom of speech.
The BCC cannot possibly keep its unbiased independence if it allows advertising.

I understand your reasons for this decision, but I think it's a pity. Your advert-free news pages are such a joy.

  • 27.
  • At 01:17 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Eric in Vermont wrote:

I have no problem with advertising on the BBC sites as long as users from outside the UK will continue to have access to the full UK versions of the BBC News and BBC Sport Web sites.

  • 28.
  • At 01:18 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jel wrote:

Whoever said the BBC WASN'T a thoroughly commercial outfit? You advertise the Licence Fee enough...
Still, one more nail in our sticking up for the UK on the international scene.

  • 29.
  • At 01:18 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

Well, if the international website is going to end up as bad as BBC World (ie apparently immune from any sort of public scrutiny/ accountability while trading under the good name of the BBC) I don't see this as a positive step. The distinction made between web content that is "UK" and "international" is just spurious and, dare I suggest, merely a device to enable the BBC to introduce such commercial measures. It's a fait accompli, so nothing can be done, but the reason the BBC is funded by a licence fee is to enable it to maintain editorial integrity and independence. That now seems to be ever-lower on the BBC's scale of values, as its over-ambitious empire-building empties the coffers, and principles get sacrificed. Being no worse than the others is not the BBC's selling point.

  • 30.
  • At 01:19 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Fred wrote:

It's a bit hypocritical to offer overseas news, then, isn't it?

  • 31.
  • At 01:20 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

So has the day of the "big chop" has finally arrived? 2800 jobs eliminated, 1000 new jobs created for a net loss of 1800 jobs and who knows what's to follow a year or two down the road. It's never a happy time when the upleasant uncertainty of who will stay and who will go approaches. Rumors are everywhere and surprises are usually inevitable. I was in a company which had to make a similar decision and consequenty reorganize itself with those who remained to cover the workload. My office mate, a highly analytical man and well aware of the office politics had it all figured out for weeks and spared no one a deatailed explanation of what would happen. Of course when the real changes were announced, they bore no resemblance to his predictions.

How clever will management be at this? Will they engage in the easy no brain sport of meat axe budget cutting, each department allotted a quota of people to cut or will they carefully assess what their best options are? If experience is any guide, they will to one degree or another cut the meat, even the bone and keep some of the fat. If they were really clever, they never would have made it to management in the first place as being a popular flunky is often a prerequisite in large organizations to becoming a manager. It's that or get fired.

So by this time tomorrow or sometime soon, there will be a lot of long faces, those who will lose their collegues and those even longer faces who confront the prospect of unemployment possibly for the first time in their lives. It happens in most large private corporations sooner or later, now it's BBC's turn. To those who remain, you will be working a lot harder picking up the slack your departed colleagues did no matter how little that was and you will get paid no more for it. IMO, you are likely overpaid as it is and will continue to be. And to those who are leaving, when they tell you this is an opportunity for you to find a new career, go down a new path in life, don't you believe it for one second. Unemployment by involuntary force reduction is never anything but worry and scrambling to find new employment as quickly as possible and often at jobs you would never have given a second look at. This is a dose of reality all Europe needs if it going to avoid going bankrupt, this and much much more. However even for BBC, it could be too little too late. Its real strategy for survival may be to become a clone of a successful model, a CNN or FOX or MSNBC. A private commercial channel or two even appearing on US cable networks could be down the road. MSBBC, has a ring to it. Maybe a wholly owned subsidiary of a large American corporation like Encyclopedia Britannica and Cunard became. The BBC subsidiary of the Disney Corporation. There are a few I think I'd like to see in "mouse ears."

  • 32.
  • At 01:22 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Susan wrote:

Hey, this should at least offset some of the cost of hiring another 700 'new media' staff. And sacking 2500 news and factual staff.

Maybe it'll be enough to fund a few extra repeats of engrossing BBC programmes such as Tittybangbang and Little Miss Jocelyn on BBC3!

  • 33.
  • At 01:25 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Stefan Stackhouse wrote:

It is indeed unfair for Brits to be paying the license fee while we non-Brits enjoy BBC content for free. There is another alternative, though: subscription-based premium content. I suspect that there are quite a few people around the world that would be willing to pay a reasonable fee to access the full range of BBC content over the internet. Perhaps you could consider a dual model? Provide basic content for free with adverts, and extended content without adverts for a subscription fee.

I would suggest keeping the subscription low. Too many subscription-based internet content providers make the mistake of setting their fee too high. One pound from each of ten million subscribers will net you a lot more than will one hundred pounds from each of a thousand subscribers.

Please give this serious consideration.

  • 34.
  • At 01:26 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • James S wrote:

Can we extend this and get advertising across the whole of the BBC for everybody, UK and overseas?

That way we can get rid of the television tax (which for some reason you consistently incorrectly call a "licence fee" - is is a tax not a licence fee).

In doing so it will hopefully encourage you to start targetting your core audience, rather than pumping out left wing propaganda to try and convert your right wing / centrist into your fluffist way of thinking.

  • 35.
  • At 01:26 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Anton Pillay wrote:

That is the most ridiculous idea I have ever heard. When is the internet defined as international and domestic? We do not want to see adverts on the news pages, just so BBC can make more money than they alreadly are!!
And to justify placing adverts only proves how wrong yall are.

  • 36.
  • At 01:29 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • MarkT wrote:

"I think the licence fee is far too low. I would willingly sell my house and all it's contents to pay for the BBC." (Showing my age there...:-) Seriously, I'm about to become an expat & am looking forward to my new life down under, apart from having to watch Aussie TV! I would happily pay a fee to receive BBC content, particularly quality TV such as Spooks, Life on Mars etc. Much more preferable than adverts. Opportunity of a valuable source of BBC revenue here...

  • 37.
  • At 01:31 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Bob wrote:

OK, I suppose it was only a matter of time, and as a Brit abroad who reads the BBC news online everyday I can get used to it. And, if the logic follows within the wider BBC, I suppose it won't be long before we hear advertising on the BBC World Service radio either.

  • 38.
  • At 01:31 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Brilliant news, hopefully this is the beginning of the end for the licence fee, which I resent paying currently, as I have no choice. Even if I watch no BBC content, I can't have a TV without it - how is that possibly fair? Advertising funds most TV and web activity across the globe, why are we stuck in some historical glitch from days when the BBC was the only service?

  • 39.
  • At 01:32 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • LCD wrote:

This is so short-sighted, and a huge compromise to journalistic impartiality.

At some point in our future, media will converge. Online, radio, tv... it will all be the same thing. Will advertising remain when this happens?

The BBC is respected and valued worldwide because its only imperative is to deliver objective reports.

I think if a brand is paying you millions in advertising revenue, it will have the might to lean on you not to report its activities (when bad), and to report (when it needs some PR).

Bad enough that you're sacking hundreds of journalists and encouraging 'user generated content' (ie, free, unreliable, content).

Advertising on top means you're no different to any other news outlet.

  • 40.
  • At 01:32 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Christopher Brewster wrote:

This is a terrible idea. No matter what you may believe now, advertising will over time will affect your editorial choices. This is inevitable and unavoidable.

It is absurd that the license fee cannot be used to benefit people outside the UK, many of whom as other posters have pointed out are UK citizens going abroad for one reason or another. The website is a window for the world into the UK and as such is of immense benefit to the UK. Adding adverts will reduce little by little people's trust, be intrusive, and make the reporting questionable.

This is a very sad day for the BBC.

  • 41.
  • At 01:33 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Phil Ewart wrote:

I agree with John (8.) maintaining Independence is extremely important. I fear that by introducing advertising the BBC will either directly or indirectly be at constant risk of conflicts of interest - I'd be interested to see your advertising policy?

Will you be allowing advertising by: oil companies, airlines, car manufactures, charities, political organisations, religious organisations.....

This decision is full of risk and may cost the BBC far more than any short term gains from advertising revenues.

  • 42.
  • At 01:35 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Rafael Gutierrez wrote:

Your decision to start earning some money from your foreign constituency is understandable.

Your lame explanation of your decision, however, reminds me of the anecdote about a Cuban politician in the '40s who, after having been a prominent bulwark of a certain political party for many years, sensed a strong wind of change and switched party affiliation (for strictly selfish reasons, I might add) in time for the next election campaign.

Knowing that the people were not going to be easily convinced about his motives, he attempted in one of his first campaign speeches to justify his switcheroo. "I know you all wonder why I changed parties after so many years..." -- he began in earnest.
He was promptly interrupted in mid-sentence by a cry from the audience: "Yeah, 'cause you sold out, you big SOB!"

  • 43.
  • At 01:36 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Barry McCauley wrote:

Put ads on the UK site. I couldn't care less. If it irked me, I'd just Ad-Block them in Firefox.

Anything that subsidises costs (as long as it isn't ads on telly/radio) is fine with me. Would be a minor miracle to actually see the licence free drop one year!!

  • 44.
  • At 01:38 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

I never realized that UK citizens 'paid' for my use of your services in this way. Thank you for making it right for them.

Advertisement is a fact of life for online business. Bring it on.

What about BBC News on radio? I listen every day to the BBC World Service News via satellite radio. I hope that part of my subscription cost helps fund that, not the British people.

  • 45.
  • At 01:40 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Darryl Matheson wrote:

Absolutely disgraceful!

  • 46.
  • At 01:44 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Gordon wrote:

Peter, post 21 - "It doesn't cost any less to ship bits from London to Folkestone than London to San Francisco. I don't pay some sort of special fee when a website of mine is accessed from Bangalore or Paris"

I'm afraid it does cost more, and while you don't pick up the tab your service provider that is running your sites does (and factors those costs into the fee they charge you). The distances are sometimes less of an issue than where the places are and whose lines the content travels along - problems that are solved by the core providers who monitor and charge for what goes where on their networks.

Well as an ex pat living in Ireland to me this is understandable but sad news.

To the user adverts and loss of content are a real turn off when using a site.

Feel free to serve CPM adverts, pop ups, pop unders and remove content where you want just be prepared to see your user numbers fall significantly.

I love the BBC website a factual, informative, excellently designed website and more importantly a haven from the commercial mess that is the web today.

The job losses announced this morning show the state the BBC is in. Tell me how many are you recruiting for the advertising department or are you just outsourcing to a fat cat agency?

  • 48.
  • At 01:48 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Adam in Dubai wrote:

I am currently based abroad, but am still paying my license fee back home as I have a house there.

I have absolutely no problem with generating revenue from non-license paying people. If fact I think the BBC gives away far too much for free to those who have made no contributions to its coffers.

But I will have serious objections if I, a license paying, British tax paying individual have to endure a degraded service.

  • 49.
  • At 01:51 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I find it hilarious that people don't call the licence fee out for what it is: a TV Tax.

Given that the UK users are paying this tax they are effectively funding all of the BBC. I don't see any reason why anyone outside of the UK should feel hard done by. After all, there isn't a call on their wallets! There are 101 ways of making money online. At least the BBC is using only the fairly benign on-site ads rather than some of the shadier routes (like collecting your personal data and hawking it).

Sure, if you pay your tax in the UK but access the BBC from elsewhere you'll have to suffer the ads. Maybe you should apply for a part-refund of your TV Tax. And your Road Tax. And your Council Tax. Because, after all, you don't use those either when you are on holiday, do you?

  • 50.
  • At 01:51 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Anthony I.P. Owen wrote:

I would have more sympathy if the BBC made some attempt to 'sell' its paid for services. In order to watch BBC Prime I have to send dollars from Morocco to Algeria (an impossibility) as there are no BBC agents here.

Rather than introduce adverts, a bit more marketing and availability of (cards for) your current international TV services might generate more revenue. Here in Morocco, those who wish to watch BBC Prime have to get pirate cards and decoders (the new TPS has now been broken quite effectively), not because we wish to defraud the BBC, but because the BBC can't be bothered to make any arrangements to sell us legitimate cards.

Exploit your existing sources of revenue before introducing new ones, please!

  • 51.
  • At 01:53 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jean-Louis wrote:

Can we trust the BBC to stick to their principles of non-invading ad, monstruous pop-ups advertising useless products? We shall see in one year. If it were not for the usual outstanding quality and objectivity of BBC reports, I would have lost hope.

  • 52.
  • At 01:58 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jeremy Watson wrote:

(Haven't read all the previous posts) Perhaps you could let us enter a serial number from our UK TV License to allow us to access an ad-free website internationally.

It's a great benefit to be able to access the BBC website when on trips or holidays abroad. I would hate for it to be compromised by ads. I too would happily pay a reasonable fee for an ad-free site. a pound a month say?

  • 53.
  • At 02:02 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • David Cooper wrote:

So many ill-informed comments here, just looking for an excuse to bash the BBC.

The simple fact is that the BBC is prohibited from using licence fee funds to pay for services that benefits overseas users. That means that free access to the ad-free site CANNOT be continued. The decision the BBC had to make was HOW to continue to provide the service without reliance on the licence fee.

It could just barred access from overseas ... thus removing any potential accusation of losing independence because of the input of advertisers.

It could have charged a fee for access (and it would have had to be for ALL access, not just premium content, because of the bar on using licence funds to provide services to those overseas).

It could use advertising to pay for the service. Like it or not, this is the simplest and most effective solution. It allows all overseas users to continue to access the service free of charge and without having to register their details.

For licence fee payers temporarily overseas it is surely a minor inconvenience.

After all, when I go on holiday, I can't ask Sky TV to allow me two weeks refund on my payment to them because I wasn't at home to watch television.

Nor can I ask the government for two weeks refund on my income tax because I was out of the country and not using UK services.

Some attitudes to the licence fee are just utterly ludicrous.

  • 54.
  • At 02:02 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Beatrix Watt wrote:

I'm discouraged with this news, being an expatriate who in a former life, enjoyed a variety of worldservice shortwave programmes. Those broadcasts to the USA disappeared. Thank you for the years you shared them.

A portable cheap shortwave radio can go anywhere and uses minimal power. The demise of shortwave broadcasting mystifies me. It has led to the Balkanisation of news, information and more. The doctrine of unintended consequences at work?

Having now a computer and dial-up connection to the internet, I've learned to favour sites without advertising. was one such site. It takes forever to download slick video advertising.

Will this change affect only the worldservice site, or all who attempt to visit from a computer not located on the British Isles?

Maybe a way could be devised for overseas listeners to subscribe to the BBC, meanwhile I await the arrival of advertsing with trepidation.

  • 55.
  • At 02:03 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Leo wrote:

Not only I do NOT complain, I am all but grateful for all this time without advertising on your site. I can not fathom how can anyone be -as you term- unhappy with this decision. It is rather obvious: you can't be blamed for wanting to fund your work, otherwise you won't be able to deliver us news with the quality the BBC has accustomed us (ppl. from all around the globe) to. Since we can't be charged with a licence fee for funding the BBC (it'd be quite preposterous, I reckon, not to mention that it'd also be rather difficult to implement), advertising seems like a very reasonable solution, and I son't see a real reason to complain... if you can still be independent in your treatment of news and big advertisers don't twist your wrist when you're writing. I think you get the idea. And I mean this even when I often don't agree with the perspective and points of view from which you treat and analyse the news (but I still have to concede that you excel in seriousness, in use of proper english, and even in that subtle sense of humour so difficult to find outside the ever-expanding empire*).

On the other hand, I think that Stefan Stackhous, on comment #33 has hit on a valid nail. It is, indeed, unfair that brits pay a licence fee so I, from abroad, not even a brit (I am argentine), can enjoy BBC's site content happily (well, perhaps not always happily) paid from british citizens' pockets and wallets.

Well, that was it. I hope that english being not my native tongue hasn't shown too evidently.

Kind regards to the brits up there, whom I learned to like by own experience and (in no small proportion) through George Mikes' books.

*"ever expanding empire" was meant as a friendly ironic remark (as if it was necessary for me to clarify...).

  • 56.
  • At 02:06 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jestyn wrote:

Will this lead to a reduction in the UK content we can see? I don't mind adverts, but the existing site is a great window into our home country for many expats - it would be a real shame if we were restricted to a "BBC PRIME" version of the website...


(For those in the UK, BBC PRIME shows a poor selection of repeats from BBC UK channels, months or years after they are shown in the UK. Unfortunately it is often the only BBC available on many people's cable systems...)

  • 57.
  • At 02:08 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jeremy wrote:

It's sad that it's come to this but I definitely understand. As a user of BBC Web services in the U.S., I don't pay the license fee, so I don't think it's fair that UK residents pay for the services that *I* use.

As long as the services maintain their high-quality, and we're getting the same top-notch, fair reporting that UK viewers/readers get, I'm fine with it.

This is a shame. One of the many things I liked about over the years is that it is one of the few places left where advertising is not prevalent. It is sad to see yet another public space eroded. The city of Sao Paolo recently banned billboards from its streets. Oh would it be wonderful if the BBC were able to continue to ban adds from its webpage!

  • 59.
  • At 02:11 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • J Royer wrote:

Bring on the ads. Meanwhile the BBC might want to consider getting ahead of the game and refuse on moral grounds all UK license fees since these are not paid in voluntarily. Either way, they will soon have to enter the 21st century and understand that a monolithic government broadcast service has no place on a free network.

  • 60.
  • At 02:13 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mohamed El Dahshan wrote:

"a majority of those surveyed in the UK agreed with the principle of advertising for international users. "

Wow, that's excellent statistical research.
Why don't you bother ask those concerned with the ads abroad instead?

  • 61.
  • At 02:14 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Paul R wrote:

The only problem I have with this is when I access the BBC from work. I am a UK license paying citizen. I work in the UK for an American company who has an internet proxy running out of Germany. As such the BBC (and many other sites) seem to assume I am German, and treat me accordingly. Which for the BBC means I am currently getting adverts before all BBC video clips.

This annoys me no end.

  • 62.
  • At 02:14 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

I'd rather that users like me who are abroad could pay a subscription fee to get the same content as UK users, but advertising will do.

But I do hope that we will be able to watch clips from Newsnight, Panorama etc in broadband now, and maybe even watch the live stream of BBC news 24 in broadband?

CNN now manages to have live streams clips all in broadband quality all over its web site, (supported by advertising). I really hope the BBC will be able to do the same.

  • 63.
  • At 02:19 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

The effect of advertising on nuetrality that people are suggesting is ludicrous. The vast majority of BBC funding comes from a combination of the license fee, the sale of other BBC media like magazines and the sale of BBC TV and Radio abroad.

The amount of money from advertising on the website will be minimal and so advertisers would be in no position to apply pressure and the Beeb is a large enough organisation in a position to tell them where to go if they do.

I also think the Beeb can't justify having UK citizens subsidise foreigners access to the website, and also unfair competition with other news websites abroad (i.e. no adverts in the website). The beeb's remit is to serve the UK, apart from BBC World Service and simply make money where it can from abroad.

  • 64.
  • At 02:22 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Frank Stevens, Amsterdam wrote:

I absolutely agree with T. North (#14) - I too "consciously avoid the news-for-profit media" and loath advertising on BBC World television. Seeing the same extremely unintelligent advert about commodities I will never be able to buy six times in a row soon gets to my stomach, despite the excellent reporting.
It seems understandable the BBC asks its international audience to "pay" as well, but it is EXTREMELY deplorable the BBC has now fallen victim to global advertitis as well.
I hope the British public realizes what fantastic service the BBC provides and I sympathise with those who will soon be made redundant - let us hope this will not be repeated.

  • 65.
  • At 02:23 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Chris Townsend wrote:

Those in the know will simply make use of their ad-blocker to ensure they never see any BBC commercials.

Those *really* in the know will spoof their IP address, as mentioned by Bill Thomson on this very site this week, in order to fool the BBC into thinking they are accessing from the UK and enabling them to go on receiving ad-free pages, the iPlayer, and any other UK-only content the BBC might choose to make available.

Richard, you simply cannot dictate a user's internet experience in the way you are trying do do!

  • 66.
  • At 02:28 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Kevin Beaird wrote:

I pay a monthly fee for BBC prime and BBC world TV via my Swedish cable TV provider, being a an ex-pat I can't live without my daily dose of British news and entertainment. One of the reasons I have always preferred the BBC for news over CNN or MSNBC is the fact that there are no adverts which are based upon cookies or keywords. Watching CNN on TV is a pain with adverts between every bulletin. I never visit the website as it is swamped with ads. Whilst I understand the economics and the problems that the BEEB is having financially, I must say that I am dismayed by the development of international BBC websites becoming commercial.

  • 67.
  • At 02:29 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Anna wrote:

As an American, I count on the BBC to give me the "real" news, not the news the US media filters to us in true Hollywood fashion. Many times the BBC gives me news about my country that the US media gives me a day later. I am truly disappointed in this decision. The BBC has succumbed to US practices.

I hope the BBC just embraces this now that the decision has been made. Personally I don't like to see the commercialisation of the BBC, however now that it is an economic necessity I hope the BBC don't waste more money overly concerning themselves about the type of adverts that are displayed. That would be a waste of resources. Make sensible judgements now about the type of content you will allow to be advertised and stick to it. Don't panick every time a new product is advertised on the site.

  • 69.
  • At 02:31 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

Thin end of the wedge. Slippery slope. Which ever cliché you prefer, they are all relevant in this case.

There is an absolute connection between the main BBC site and the news site. To me and others the news site is the BBC site.

BBC news is held up as a beacon of impartiality. No other news organisation can claim to be so. There is either advertising or direct government control. The BBC has been consistently the one of the most trusted organisations in Britain and the world

As we have been told over and over "due to the unique way the BBC is funded etc... ", now it is no longer unique. The BBC did not have to pander to anyone. It did not endorse anyone (I remember wondering what the magical substance sticky back plastic was for years as a child watching Blue Peter) but that has now changed and it will be far harder to reverse this decision that to make it in the first place.

There is plenty of chaff to drop in the BBC that would remove the need for this. It is a nail in the coffin of the current funding structure that this has been willingly implemented.

  • 70.
  • At 02:31 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mark S wrote:

Several have already made this point, but I would like to add my support. I am about to emigrate and see that the BBC website will become an essential part of my life (as it is now). Whilst, I won't mind unobtrusive ads, I would be prepared to pay a fee to access the content. Is this being considered for international users?

  • 71.
  • At 02:36 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Spot the Cat wrote:

Funny. As a National Public Radio listener in New York I am listening to a pledge drive at this very moment that is telling me that my contribution is helping to pay for the BBC World Service. I am a bit offended that the BBC seems to think this support does not count.

Spot the Cat
New York City

  • 72.
  • At 02:36 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

It´s a sad day for the world when the last bastion of unbiased news media goes the way of the likes of CNN and MSNBC.

Milwaukee, USA

  • 73.
  • At 02:36 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I don't have an issue with advertising on the international site - I'm aware from BBC World that the BBC is particularly discrete when it comes to advertising and doubt it will be a hinderance. What does irk me a little (and I admit it is only a little) is the principle in the BBC Charter that licence fee funding should not be used for international audiences. I am a Brit living in Belgium. Even if I didn't pay money to the BBC, I would consider that this particular audience should be taken into account in much the same way as the minority who do not have a licence in the UK but still use BBC services such as this website or the radio. In fact, however, I do help fund the BBC in my small way in that I, like the majority of Belgians, subscribe to Belgacom, the incumbent cable operator. This enables me to watch BBC1, BBC2 and BBC World, which the BBC happily profits from. It seems to me that my community is contributing as much as anyone else in the UK and doesn't deserve second class treatment.

  • 74.
  • At 02:39 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Forces wrote:

I wonder what this means to viewers who are part of the British Forces overseas and the children who are educated in MOD funded schools outside the UK but are a full part of the UK education structure. The web site is used to access educational sites in these schools. Already it is not possible to access video materials when not in the UK but part of the forces community. How will this move change things, will the button on to change to the UK verison be no longer available?

  • 75.
  • At 02:40 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • L.MacKinnon wrote:

Advertisments shouldn't be a problem, everyone else has adverts, as long as there are no "popups".

Toronto, Canada

  • 76.
  • At 02:47 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • john grimes wrote:

I would prefer to pay an annual subscription fee similiar to the Guardian fee.

I really like the uncluttered BBC international page to use as my home page.

I don't know how the numbers compare and maybe it would be best to offer both the free with adverts and a subscription basis.


In #41 Phil asks, "Will you be allowing advertising by: oil companies, airlines, car manufactures, charities, political organisations, religious organisations.."

With many of the ad networks the BBC wouldn't actually get much of a choice. They'd post some javascript code on their pages and somebody else, more likely a machine, would decide what ads to show based on the content of the page (and other factors).

  • 78.
  • At 02:53 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Reza Amiri wrote:

The BBC's world coverage is part of the bigger picture: UK public diplomacy.

So why not funding the BBC News online the same way that World Service is funded, i.e. directly by the Foreign Office?

  • 79.
  • At 02:56 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen hawkins wrote:

I am a UK licence fee payer

Can you tell me then why I get Delta Airlines adverts instead of the items I clicked on already and in the UK

And if I am abroad on a business trip, do I get some way of saying I have paid my licence and dont want the adverts?

If the ads keep the BBC website flowing with info for international users that's the way it is.

Bandwidth/servers cost money and if someone thinks that the 75 year old pensioner in Sheffield should subsidize the net for some San Fran high tech news hound they are seriously out to lunch.

  • 81.
  • At 02:57 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Frank Defalco wrote:

My respect recently for the BBC has been going down. You are laying off thousands, now your advertising. Not to mention the change in your content since the white wash commision a few years ago. I wonder when you decided to run as a private corporation, corporatism/facism. A sliperry slope.

  • 82.
  • At 02:57 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew Dundas wrote:

This house can only receive BBC TV 1 & 2 and no others. Why not extend you coverage to Ilkley in West Yorkshire from cuts in your other channels?

  • 83.
  • At 02:59 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Alex Tapaccos wrote:

Is a subscription option been considered? I love this site and wouldnt mind paying a small subscription fee to access the contect ad-free.

The problem with adverts is that they are usually overly repetitive (same advert showing all the time) which is very annoying and worst still sometimes completely irrelevant. At least show me adverts that might be relative to me or my location.


  • 84.
  • At 02:59 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Autumn wrote:

Personally the ads don't bother me as I'll never see them. Using ad and content blockers with Firefox, I haven't seen an online ad in two years. I do worry it will compromise your editorial integrity though. Having been an editor at two publications, I know all too well that, no matter how much you say it won't, having advertising will affect your bias. I can recall several incidences during my time in print journalism where negative stories about a company or product were killed because the company was a major advertiser. You can't bite the hand that feeds you.

  • 85.
  • At 03:00 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • vsn wrote:

Advertising has been displayed before videos for some days now.

I'm a UK user, but work for a global corporation. Our corporate web proxy is in another country and is therefore treated as being abroad and so we get adverts when we shouldn't.

  • 86.
  • At 03:00 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Oh well. There goes the BBC.

I understand the need for money. People have to eat and live.

The queen needs her money too!

Since people around the world respect the BBC and want to keep it the way it is, I would suggest the Sun rise back on the British Empire by all countries agreeing to the Queen and the English Royal Family being the head of the Royal World. Every country will then be obligated to pay a tax to the royals and with this tax will be included a percent to the BBC. This way the adverts can be discontinued immediately.

God Save the BBC!

  • 87.
  • At 03:01 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Dudleyc wrote:

At least give us the option of paying a subscription, rather than being forced to suffer yet more ads.

I've already noticed the ads before the video clips, and they are the same appalling ads we see on BBC World TV.

Ads are bad enough; but boring, insipid, global ad campaigns such as those found on international satellite news channels are even worse! They are so often for random multinational infrastructure companies you've never heard of, or else poorly produced tourist ads advertising various random countries.

Tell me how much of the UK license fee goes on the website, and I'll write you a cheque for my share right now!

I'm all for it. Adverts = cash. Cash = improved BBC!

  • 89.
  • At 03:02 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Susan wrote:

As an American who has the BBC as my Homepage I would be happy to pay a subscription fee to the BBC.

The news outlets here have become tabloid entertainment. The so called news, what there is of it, is biased and reflects more of the opinions of the talking heads inside the DC Beltway.

I rely on the BBC for news and know there are high costs to maintain the website.

  • 90.
  • At 03:03 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • fred wrote:

how about allowing downloads of archive material for a small subscription, free to anyone who has already bought a tv licence? allowing advertising just brings in commercial pressure on content (even if you try to avoid it, it's still there..). and it's annoying. there should at leat be the option to subscribe.

  • 91.
  • At 03:03 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Matt Wayne wrote:

And for us UK license payers who happen to be surfing the web whilst abroad? Not only are we not allowed to view streaming content (that we can see in the UK,) but we are also now forced to view advertising too. This really needs a password facility to allow the same access as in the UK for UK license payers.

  • 92.
  • At 03:05 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Martijn Coenen (the Netherlands) wrote:

I understand that this is one of the only ways to fund BBC for international viewers when you cannot use the domestic funding.

Unless... there is an unless here. Small, non-intrusive advertisements are not a problem for viewers of this website. But when ads become intrusive (like scrolling over the content, flashing in big images) or when more than 25% of the screen becomes ads viewing, the BBC loses it's viewers.

Also, there is a danger that the dependencies will overrule the newsbringing facts. When the BBC reports of fraud at company X while this company is one of the biggest spenders on adverstisement on the BBC there is danger that the 'facts' will need to be 'altered'.

But in general, many internet users use ad-blocking addons that are available for Firefox but also for Internet Explorer so when ads become the majority on a site or intrusive, users block all ads on a site, eg

  • 93.
  • At 03:06 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Matt Wayne wrote:

And of course, I am glad that you are producing a Flash based viewer to stream your archive content for Mac users, but we have the same rights as windoze users and as a state-funded organisation you have a moral duty to provide the SAME services to all major platform users. This means abandoning the MS DRM player and using one of the many alternatives available.

  • 94.
  • At 03:08 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Howard Bayliss wrote:

I notice that you mention that advertising is the logical way for international readers to contribute to the BBC costs. This really is incorrect. You are getting advertising money from the advertisers in their HOPE that we will buy their products. This has never worked on me with other sites that use this method. In fact, I abandoned CNN.COM for that very reason.

  • 95.
  • At 03:09 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Arthur Hayden wrote:

In Belgium we pay the BBC through fees paid to our cable tv providers so will you be giving us advert free news here? Also, are you going to explain one day why you stopped ceefax, except for programme listings, in Belgium? I did ask at the time but you couldn't be bothered to reply. Perhaps you did it for a laugh just to annoy us, knowing we have to keep paying you the same sum for less service.

  • 96.
  • At 03:12 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Roger Ellis wrote:

I'll accept the advertising if you stop blocking TMC test commentaries to listeners outside the UK.

  • 97.
  • At 03:15 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jeremy McGeary wrote:

As an expat living in an Internet Third World (rural USA), I dread any potential threat to the rapid screen viewing I currently get of the BBC site via my dial-up connection. No joke, anyone more than 3 miles from a DSL hub and unwilling to pay the premium for satellite-based Internet is toast for broadband. Even the cable TV providers won't invest in broadband.
My browser (which I hesitate to update because it would take all night to download, by which time it will be out of date again) crashes when I try to visit many US news sites because it can't handle, I think, the ads, which, of course, always load first.
Videos? forget it.
If you must pay for the overseas news with advertisements, please ensure that a) the news content loads first and b) the ads don't subsequently destroy the experience by kicking me into the ether.
In my view, over the Internet, low tech is the best tech.
PS I'm on a Mac.

I get really fed up with this attitude from the BBC and I wish someone would listen to me instead of just taking my money.
I live outside the UK, in fact I live in Japan. I'm a UK citizen and unlike many UK based citizen's I buy my BBC on satellite TV, SkyPerfect for BBC World so why can't I have broadband news, sports commentaries on BBC Radio and now I have to have advertisement. Not all UK citizens pay their TV license and if I don't pay the monthly fee it's turned off. I've tried putting these questions to BBC World but I never get a reply.
Maybe I should end my BBC World and move onto a channel that listens to its customers/clients.

  • 99.
  • At 03:18 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • John Logsdon wrote:

I have long suggested that all BBC domestic channels be made available on some sort of subscription basis worldwide either by satellite or the web. This may be in addition to taking modest advertising and would also enable domestic viewers in difficult-to-access places to be able to receive all the digital channels.

Thus ex-pats and others could watch all BBC channels around the world - and pay for them. I believe there would be a large market for the best broadcaster in the world (even if some of the journalistic standards have slipped recently).

The only problem is possible conflict with local channels that take BBC programs and non-BBC programs that are strictly for UK only. These are programming problems that can be circumvented and the BBC could benefit from income that would render the present redundancies pointless.

It just requires some thinking out of the box and perhaps the limiting of the licence fee is a blessing in disguise.

this is a sad day for democracy, and a great day for the petrochemical industry. i can hear the champagne being poured right now.

  • 101.
  • At 03:30 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • TDF wrote:

I suppose you're in-between a rock and a hard place, eh? As a Canadian who daily accesses the wealth of information available from BBC websites, I'd like to thank you for keeping content accessible to int'l users. However, I'm duty-bound to advise that my browser is set to block ads, so it won't affect me a whit. Perhaps another method of profit-gathering is in order?

As a UK citizen resident outside of England for about 25 years now and thus a non-contributor to a license fee for a long time, I feel that the BBC is perfectly entitled to increase its revenue stream from the likes of me. Most of my favorite web pages feature discrete ads already and they don't bother me.

Far better this than an alternative involving loss of services to BBC overseas web users.

the launch of - which will mean international users of our website will see advertising on selected pages in the near future. There will be no change and no advertising for UK users. will encompass all types of content, but news will be at the heart of the site.

I have no problem with adverts for international users, or indeed if I were viewing the site from abroad. What worries me is that it sounds like it'll be a different site to the one seen in the UK.

Does this mean I'll no longer be able to share stories I see on BBC News with friends abroad, and that they won't be able to send stories to me? What happens if I post a link to an article on in my blog?

Great Britain may geographically be an island, but nations are no longer islands. The world is one interlinked community - online at least. Commercial companies already try to place barriers between countries (e.g. regional DVD codes, and preventing radio streaming abroad). Please let's not have the BBC present different content to overseas users - it goes right against all the principles of the world wide web.

Perhaps Richard Sambrook could clarify: will overseas viewers still see the same BBC News content as UK users?

  • 104.
  • At 03:33 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mike G wrote:

It is important that the BBC keep it's integrity and not even chance being influenced by the controlling antics of commercialization. Keep the advertising the out - the reporting and the site clean and it will be worth every penny. I live in the U.S. where we suffer at the hands of commercial influence in everything and as such the BBC is an oasis of genuine reporting. Please keep the advertisers out - they contaminate good reporting

James S wrote:

Can we extend this and get advertising across the whole of the BBC for everybody, UK and overseas?

That way we can get rid of the television tax (which for some reason you consistently incorrectly call a "licence fee" - is is a tax not a licence fee).

Wrong - it it not a tax as it's not compulsory. With council tax, for example, you have to pay whether or not you use the council's services. You can easily avoid paying the licence fee by not using a television.

  • 106.
  • At 03:36 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ben E wrote:

Firstly, I'd like to point out that when I was a UK resident I used to access BBC online from a proxy server in the Netherlands. Now the authentication that you are talking about would render me as a foreign user, although I was sitting in Berkshire!

Also, now that I live aborad I access BBC news frequently to keep updated on issues at home. Actually no problem for me when it comes to adverts on the website, as indeed you need to generate money. But when you can't get ANY coverage of certain sports, and BBC Radio 5 Live is blocked because of broadcasting rights, it gets VERY frustrating. How can you solve that one?


Perhaps if this really is a fair attempt to recoup some of the running costs, every advert could be accompanied by a small text link which, when followed, will tell users how to block such intrusions on the major browsers?

  • 108.
  • At 03:51 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Nate McFadden wrote:

Why not introduce a third option: a subscription fee for non-UK users who want to access BBC without ads? I believe there are many people who would gladly take this option to avoid ads and have full access to all the site content.

  • 109.
  • At 03:51 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Aubrey wrote:

I think I can handle 'unobtrusive' advertising - although if the ads are for products not available in my country, I might be a little amused.

I do however see the whole bbc website as a large advertisement for BBC products - especially since the bbc decided to no longer broadcast shortwave in North America - leaving us with little option in Canada but to subscribe to BBC World or BBC Canada to have non-internet access to one of the best news sources in the world.

In the USA I believe they regularly broadcast BBC Worldservice segments on the National Public Radio stations - which one can occasionally pick-up when very close to the border (not, however, in Toronto, e.g.).

I have little problem with the option for different access levels - so long as the news content and media content are about the same. I pay extra to my cable company so that I can see BBC on television. Why should that not also entitle me to UK-level access to BBC via the internet? If someone else doesn't pay for cable access, recouping some costs via reasonable advertising should be their 'free' option (without restricting actual content).

All that said - I agree with comments above about improving the video quality (if affordable). The CBC in Canada has rather high-quality video online and it does not resort (yet) to online advertising beyond advertising for its own TV shows and programmes. Like the BBC it is publically funded (however it does show a good deal of advertising on television).

  • 110.
  • At 03:53 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Kate Arding wrote:

Commenting as an overseas user and whilst completely understanding the need for the BBC to generate income, part of the appeal of the site is the fact that one is not bombarded with ads - which I find deeply irritating.

I would be more than happy to pay a subscription to use the site as I do on a daily basis. Could this not be considered as an alternative?

  • 111.
  • At 03:53 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • JG wrote:

As there is not much difference in BBC programming compared with the commercial operators such as ITV, why not just drop the license fee and go commercial? On the other hand, if the BBC is supposed to be providing a public service based on what amounts to a TV tax, they don't need to chase ratings and follow the "dumb-down approach" so favoured in UK broadcasting. Other national public broadcasters seem to concentrate on promoting their respective countries, languages, cultures and ideals at home and abroad.

  • 112.
  • At 03:53 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

No problem if it helps maintain the existing service. However I would hope that the BBC looked into allowing international access to archive TV and sports audio/TV as part of an international subscription service as poster #33 Stefan Stackhouse suggests.

  • 113.
  • At 03:53 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Luke Mellor wrote:

What's the big deal! Putting sticky back plastic over Kellogs logos never made Blue Peter more independent, it was just a philosophy that was rigorously enforced.

When I last looked at BBC World, there were plenty of adverts there. If BBC World's got problems, its not with its neutrality, its because it's output doesn't come anywhere near the World Service in terms of standards. Programmes like "Hard Talk" are too reverential to their subjects and just come off as poor cousins of Larry King. For my money, let BBC World reflect the best of BBC2 output (I would pay anything to see University Challenge and its ilk) and BBC Prime can chase the BBC1 mob with "Silent Witness" and endless repeats of "Eastenders".

Lastly, FiveLive international seems to have lost most of its content because of licensing problems (the loop "We are sorry but the current programming...." seems to feature more often than before), I would pay an annual fee to hear Alan Green and Ian Robertson. I'm not sure how a commentary can be legally restricted anymore than a newspaper correspondant stating that his report will not be circulated in certain regions

  • 114.
  • At 03:57 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

I will be horribly disappointed if this means that the full range of bbc news is not available to viewers outside the UK. It sounds like will have content geared to an "international" audience, but it's the local news from the UK that I'm interested in.

I hope you will clarify this point.

  • 115.
  • At 04:03 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Joe Miller wrote:

Advertising on BBC is not the best news of the day but in light of headlines reading "BBC Trust approves plans to cut thousands of jobs, sell off its headquarters and reduce the number of programmes it makes" it's not all that bad.
I'd rather have with ads than no BBC at all. It's a very small price to pay for such high quality news and information.

About time too - when I suggested this to Michael Grade and Ashley Highfield in 2005 they were very dismissive of the idea, nice to see UK LF payers no longer having to subsidise American desires for an impartial news outlet.

  • 117.
  • At 04:06 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • DG wrote:

I would prefer to pay for advert-free access than have free access to adverts for products and services I have no interest in.

  • 118.
  • At 04:08 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

You can get 'Adblock Plus' as a plugin for the Firefox web browser which automatically replaces adverts on web sites with blank space. Very nice, reclaim your computer screen for yourself. As for the BBC, it is odd that TV users must fund it, while radio and online users don't need to. How about funding it out of a general progressive taxation, does that sound fairer?

  • 119.
  • At 04:09 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

Please don't use those adverts that popup over the text. Banner ads on the side of the page are OK.

  • 120.
  • At 04:12 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Fred p wrote:

The internet is a world wide domain. This is the beginning of a decline if the bbc sees the need to place ads and worry about advertisers.It could only negatively effect the site.Please reconsider.

  • 121.
  • At 04:12 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Christopher wrote:

I would just like to add my voice to the many who say that it's understandable, but please do it right.

The site's video content has been more or less useless for non-Windows users for years. It seems to work now, but with horrendously invasive advertising (both the airline and the pointless BBC intro).

The BBC's layout has always been a model of simplicity and elegance for a news site: quick and intuitive access to relevant information, relevant links, fast load times and minimal impact on the reader's machine.

Advertisers typically care little about user's bandwidth or ability to browse quickly, as long as you see their message.

The result is typical of almost all "other" news websites: sluggish browsing, hanging browsers, overuse of cookies from multiple domains (the advertisers want to know about you!), impact on bandwidth (especially for dialup users, who probably need the BBC most) and CPU hogging.

So while it's understandable, please PLEASE do it right.

  • 122.
  • At 04:13 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Furqan wrote:

I am a regular user of BBC News website and its Urdu edition and i would rather pleased to pay the fees for the quality news content.


  • 123.
  • At 04:16 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew McGregor wrote:

I have recently moved to the USA and I subscribe to BBC America and BBC radio 1 on Sirus radio. I am fine with adverts, but I want to be able to listen to football match commentary's. These are blocked out for "contractual obligations". This would be fine if there was an option to watch or listen to the match over here but there isn't. So by all means charge a fee, have advertising, but I want full access to everything on the BBC website.

  • 124.
  • At 04:21 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Steve Nash wrote:

Archaic decision. Welcome to the USA. BBC viewership has just declined, check your metrics in a year.

I'm from Boston, and I listen to the world service religiously. In the car on our local national public radio station, and at work through your webpage.

It saddens me that you will be putting advertisements on your site. Nothing makes a website experience cheaper then being subjected to advertisements by the website owners. All of a sudden, it no longer feels as if you're trying to inform me about the world, but that you're using me for profit. I don't like that.

However, I love the BBC enough that I can look past that. I have ad-block plus, a firefox extension, that will block all of your advertisements anyway.

Keep up the good work BBC!

  • 126.
  • At 04:27 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I live and work in the UK, but my company's Internet access point is located in France. As such all streams automatically default to the international versions. Whenever I start up a new browser it defaults to the international news page. I suppose that now I'll get advertising too. If there was support for user accounts that are linked to the TV licence number then UK licence fee payers could access the services regardless of how they connect.

  • 127.
  • At 04:29 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jim Walsh wrote:

As an overseas reader I have a certain sympathy with the position the BBC is in and accept that something probably has to be done to rectify the situation. It doesn't seem fair that UK licence fee payers pay for a site that is used by people all over the world.

A lot depends on how the advertising will be placed. If its just going to be scrollers embedded in the pages thats fine but if its going to be huge intrusive popup then I'll be turning on my ad blocking software which defeats the purpose of carrying advertising.

But I am more concerned about the idea that only part of the site will be available. Personally I don't see the justification for this. Its a bit of a double whammy. More advertising/Less content. I fear that if this is the situation I will just end finding another source of news information.

  • 128.
  • At 04:29 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • SimonK wrote:

Roy in comment 11 complains that he can't get a rebate for the periods of the year when he's out of the country. Actually, he can do exactly that. Remembering that the licence fee is per household rather than per person, if nobody in a household is going to be there for a three-month period, you're perfectly entitled to a rebate. I agree that's not perfect - if you're only away for eleven weeks you get no discount - but it's better than nothing.

  • 129.
  • At 04:32 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Walker Moore wrote:

Great decision. Restricting BBC content to UK users defeats the whole point of the internet somewhat, but on the other hand it does seem somewhat unfair that international users are receiving free content for which we, the UK TV license payer must foot the bill.

You've struck a good balance.

As for the "does this mean I have to view adverts when abroad" brigade, well obviously yes. Just as you do with BBC World, BBC America, etc. This is looking for problems where they don't really exist.

  • 130.
  • At 04:50 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • John Airey wrote:

Peter, post 21 - the BBC have servers distributed around the world to serve the content on this site simply because a single site could not cope with the amount of traffic. Those other servers cost the BBC more money and since the service they provide isn't of much benefit to license payers the BBC want to fund them separately.

The only fly in the ointment is license payers abroad will have to put up with advertising. However, this is just one of the problems of a dual funding model for broadcast media.

  • 131.
  • At 04:54 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • B Miller wrote:

I applaud this decision. I am an expat who uses the BBC site a lot, and am perfectly happy to have ads displayed. International users like myself cannot expect to enjoy content at the expense of UK licence payers. I also hope that this will lead to an expansion of content available to international users, funded by either advertising or subscription.

  • 132.
  • At 04:55 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

I hope that this will not lead to the introuction of fees, etc. Many of those who access the BBC website outside the UK are British citizens who are, for whatever reason, away from the UK pro tempore, but who nevertheless pay the licence fee when at home.

  • 133.
  • At 04:55 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Leon wrote:

If people are concerned about seeing ADs they can download an Adblocker, people still have a choice if the want ads or not.

  • 134.
  • At 04:56 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • W H-F, Oslo. (UK-Ex-Pat) wrote:

I use the BBC site from Norway, watch BBC Prime, and listen to World Service when it's being broadcast on the local 'state' radio stations (our version of the BBC).

A licence fee is paid to the latter (who I presume pay to broadcast WS?), and I pay extra for access to obtain access to BBC Prime, which I assume some part of goes to the BBC for the privilege.

So not all users abroad are being 'subsidised' by UK licence payers.

One reason I use the BBC site is the lack of advertising. Not a day I am looking forward to.

  • 135.
  • At 04:58 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

I guess this was all inevitable and hopefully won't adversely affect news reporting (don't want to upset the "sponsors" now do we).

However the biggest problem right now with the BBC is it's blinkered one-eyed decision to jump into bed with Microsoft and deny an awful lot of UK & world users the possibility of using iPlayer.

The "only 3% of users" is wildly incorrect so stop using it and there are plenty of cross-platform, non-MS solutions out there.

  • 136.
  • At 04:58 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew Stothard wrote:

Can't help but giggle at some responses to this.

To the people complaining about the TV "tax" what exactly is your point? 30million people listen to BBC radio going into and home from work each day. For me, £150 is absolutely fine considering the 800+ hours of Chris Moyles I get to listen to every day - not even thinking about the quality programming on the telly as well!

Commercial radio - rubbish. Commercial tv - awful. Would you rather not pay the "tax" and have to endure ads every 5 minutes on the telly?

Quit yer moanin!

Anyway, £150 a year is worth is just to maintain the last bastion of British greatness - the BBC.

I was however delighted to see that the BBC are willing to make foreigners pay to use their services - not because I dislike the notion of people getting the service for free, but because the extra income generated could in a few years make sufficient money to increase the quality of BBC reporting and programming!

Ah, so you bought the BBC dot com web address.

That used to belong to a Boston company. A bank or something? I can't remember now.

I wonder how much we paid for it? Because if I had been that company I would have held on for lots!

As for those who don't like advertising - there are plenty of free UK proxy servers around. Just enter one into your browsers proxy settings (don't use a program to do it - pure rip off) and you will be able to browse the site ad free!

  • 138.
  • At 05:06 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Alex MARTIN wrote:

Aaaaaghhh! No, please no!

This makes the BBC like any other. No reason to come here any more. Might as well call it

Alex Martin

While I understand the reasoning behind it, I'm hoping there may still be opportunity for those of us outside the UK to view the site without advertising - perhaps by paying a nominal monthly or annual subscription fee?

Toronto, Canada

  • 140.
  • At 05:11 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • David wrote:

Please reconsider.

Many users like myself have ISPs perhaps via work which seem to "track back" to some country outside of the UK.

Despite having lived in London my whole life, I am defaulted to the international version, directed to "", and get german adverts on some sites.

You simply cannot reliably tell someone's location from the IP address. I do not want to see adverts on the BBC!

  • 141.
  • At 05:15 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jon Wharf wrote:

I support this decision in principle as one who relies on the BBC website from Canada. I hope this will mean that all content is available too.

I appreciate the promise of keep the advertising from intruding on the content, and I'm sure the many international fans of the BBC will raise any concerns if you fall short!

  • 142.
  • At 05:15 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jared wrote:

Who cares? I have adblocker.

  • 143.
  • At 05:16 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Frankie wrote:

BBC is a lifeline not only for UK citizens abroad, but for those of us in America who cannot trust our own media.

I support your decision to offset costs with advertising. However, I'd like the option to subscribe whereby I can continue to receive BBC content without those adds. They annoy me.

With a subscription model I can help offset the costs of my use more directly, and for UK citizens abroad I'm certain IT could make arrangements such that they can continue to receive the BBC content exactly as they do now.

Warm Regards,

  • 144.
  • At 05:30 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Amanda wrote:

Already it is not possible for us overseas users to access everything on the BBC website (notably clips of TV shows etc), if adverts are now going to be inflicted on us then I will certainly be visiting the site much less and looking for alternative ways to keep up with life in Britain.

  • 145.
  • At 05:38 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • gabe wrote:

Showing ads is fair enough - I have a blog and nobody seems to mind that I have ads on it. But I am worried that BBC World TV is being cited as an example. Where I live, you have to buy it on cable and endure excruciating half hour infomercials.

It's a very poor replacement for real BBC news, and shows endless repeats. There's almost a complete black-out on live sports reporting. They're not able to give a half-time score or mid race report. The weather is a joke - this summer we were continually told it was raining (it rained twice). And someone please tell the weathermen about global warming. While poor Greece was in danger of burning to a crisp, day after day they chirpily declared “another lovely sunny day today in Greece”. Don’t they understand that “sun” does not always equal “good” in areas stricken by draught, desertification and fire.

I’ve heard them refer to Taiwan as located in South East China, and rather than refer to Tibet as a country under Chinese occupation, they seem to avoid referring to it at all, other than in Chinese terms. They’re obviously terrified of losing the world’s potential number one customer. For that very reason I doubt this comment will be posted. If they follow the BBC World model, what is currently the best website in the world is heading for the trash can.

  • 146.
  • At 05:39 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Vamsee Kamana wrote:

Calling one time..2 times..3 times..
SOLD - BBC'S integrity.

  • 147.
  • At 05:42 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Dan wrote:

As an American, I'm very saddened by this news. As an international user, I don't expect to reap the benefits of the BBC for free while UK citizens pay for it. But I know from watching news in the states, that quality, independence, and integrity go completely out the window when advertisers are brought on board. I've always thought of the BBC as a safe haven for independent news, and to that end, I wouldn't mind paying a subscription fee if that's what's necessary to keep the site available to international users. But I don't want to see the integrity of the BBC tarnished do to corporate meddling.

  • 148.
  • At 05:46 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Harley wrote:

I can understand the motivation for this. Hopefully the ads will not occupy 60% of your page space.

However, I find that advertisements serve little purpose aside from being a source of annoyance.

It saddens me to see the BBC forced to adopt advertising -- and it saddens me to read of the job cuts and program curtailments at the BBC. I've long considered the BBC to be the most impartial and inclusive news source in the world, and as hinted in the BBC's own articles on this subject, I believe this reputation will be undermined by the move towards advertising.

I write from the USA, and our former National Educational Television, which renamed itself National Public Television (NPR) several years ago, was for ages ad-free. Now it is still purportedly ad-free, but that is frankly hypocrisy, as "blurbs" for the sponsors of its shows are shown before virtually every presentation -- and the sponsorship by corporations, itself, is a form of manipulation of content, beyond any doubt.

So this is a sad day for those of us who wish for an impartial, uninfluenced source for news. I recognize the economic necessity for outside funding, but devoutly wish there were another, more ethically acceptable, answer.

  • 150.
  • At 05:52 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • trickyflyingdave wrote:

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO... IF IT HAS ADVERTISING IT IS NOT THE BBC. IF IT IS NOT THE BBC I DONT WANT IT. so if you put advertising up i will not be using the BBC.

  • 151.
  • At 05:54 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jonathan Harvey wrote:

I spend alot of time in the USA, and pay tax and license fee in the UK all year round. The broadcast news here is terrible, and the one haven against the unrelenting barrage of advertising is the BBC website.

The changes that Mark Thomson has outlined, I believe are the start of a slippery slope. Please dont allow this change to happen. We should have a referendum to see whether the public would rather pay more license fee or be subjected to advertising on the BBC website.

If it was a straight choice between the two I would gladly pay more license fee. I do feel that we are being dictated to a little here.

I know many Americans do also depend on the BBC website for an unbiased perspective on the world. So....

Why not make foreign users pay to use the BBC website and those of us that pay the license fee can enter their License number like some sort of pin...that way the BBC gets more money (from the foreign users) and us Brits abroad can continue to use the service without adverts and popups.

  • 152.
  • At 05:55 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

As a loyal reader who likes to hear a news perspective from outside the US (and its small group of people that have a lot of control over US media) I am very disappointed. However, I understand that the taxpayers in the UK should not have to pay to inform others.

A warning though--internet loyalty is not as strong as one might think, and if the site becomes annoying people will go elsewhere. I think in the US is learning this lesson.

Also, I am very curious who actually wants to advertise to the "everyone on earth except UK" market?

  • 153.
  • At 05:56 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • alfredo vogel-Cheissoux France wrote:

Another chauvinistic move: international and web readers are to carry the adverts and therefore the changing editorial independence of the BBC (example: how could the bbc report about some mishap in one of the advertisers companies? Blackwater for example?)
I agree with Alex Martin: read the news at any other website, since the bbc is protecting its main revenue payer: the UK license payer. See what I mean?

  • 154.
  • At 06:02 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Will wrote:

I've been reading the BBC site from abroad for several years and I've often felt a bit guilty that I have not been paying for it through a TV license. But I really do not want to have to wade through adverts.

Would it be possible for me to subscribe to this site (paying a fee proportional to the amount of the license fee that goes to maintaining the BBC's web sites) and then get the same access as I would if I lived in the UK?

  • 155.
  • At 06:02 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Sorry Jon(#61) but advertising will affect the impartiality even if it only in the perception. The problem is that its the perceived impartiality that is why the BBC is so well regarded around the world and attracts so many visitors. As an Brit in the USA I know people recognize this.

As for the License payers subsidizing the foreigners, what nonsense. If the site was blocked to everyone outside the UK the operating costs would not change one cent. Changing the site to show different versions in different locations will add cost, complexity to the operation of the site. The potential for bugs and other operational issues will increase. So in actual fact the BBC wants the foreigners to subsidize the License payer. If cost is really the issue then how come I can listen BBC Radio over the internet without adverts and that service does involve additional costs, or is that going to change too.

I visit the BBC site every day as my news source precisely because its the only site with no commercial intrusions. I don't visit CNN for that reason and I'm very disappointed that the BBC has chosen to do this.

  • 156.
  • At 06:18 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Sandy Lauder wrote:

It seems that I may be in the minority but I would much, much prefer to pay a small annual "membership" or registration fee to receive BBC web service than have to listen to inane adverts every time I click on something.

Much has been made of the advertizing approach in other countires etc - but the reason I use BBC is precicely because I can access quality information quickly and directly. I live in North America - for goodness sake do not follow this dumbed down model!

  • 157.
  • At 06:23 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Sekhar wrote:

BBC has the right to do so, but the reason they are showing non-UK readers are benefiting at the expense of UK license fee payers is some what not convincing. i don't think I'm on ""

i think ads won't affect the quality of the content.

Personally i check sports page that too EPL & rugby stuff and news of major events in UK.

I don't think i would depend on BBC services for any news of my country or to the fact any other country excepting UK.
for me it's just a window to UK, nothing more than that. so I'm peeking into your space so u want a ticket for it, if there are sponsors for that why would i bother?

  • 158.
  • At 06:31 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

From a technical standpoint, it's perfectly possible for the BBC to serve page views for international viewers with and without advertising. does it, for instance. Plainly a good number of people would be willing to take that subscription.

I'd be more inclined to subscribe if I could get access to current programming, especially radio commentary for international football games. The challenge of using the internet as a data channel is that it doesn't match well with territory-based sales of broadcasting rights. I'm willing to pay someone for radio commentary, why not the BBC?

On the other hand, maybe I should be pleased I didn't have to listen to last night's debacle in Tbilisi. Some things don't change, alas.

  • 159.
  • At 06:36 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • John Illingworth wrote:

I understand the economic realities of the situation, and while I'm disappointed that I'll have to view advertising to read BBC News, I can't see that it's fair to complain about it. It certainly is the truth that UK citizens are paying for your services, and I'm not paying a thing for them. I am from the U.S., and as you might imagine it was refreshing to find a news service that was uncluttered by advertisements, and whose integrity was showcased by its own prohibitions against advertising; however, the thing that has made BBC News into my primary source of news content is the quality of your reporting and your repeatedly demonstrated comittment to fairness.

I was prompted to post this comment because of one major concern: the bandwidth and processing requirements of the advertising you choose for your websites. Like most U.S. residents I have access only to a dial-up internet connection, and a rather poor quality one at that. I'm also using an outdated computer because of fairly ordinary financial restrictions. I'm poor by U.S. standards, but compared to the technology resources available in most other nations, I enjoy an abundance of speedy information access. And most of the mainstream news sources obviously forget about (or blatantly ignore) the technological limitations I and the vast majority of other people have.

On those very rare occasions I go to the websites of other large news organizations, I have found them to be literally unusable as a direct result of their advertising schemes. It seems the advertisers are not content to have simple, classy, still advertisements; everything is interactive, scripted, animated, soundtracked... on and on. One of these advertisments would be enough to increase the page's loading time five- or tenfold, but there are always at least two, and sometimes three or more, as sidebars, topbars, and interspersed throughout the text, sometimes for the same product (but all requiring their own load-times), usually for different ones. By the time the ads have loaded, I'm lucky if I can get my overworked processor to allow me to scroll down and read the content I actually wanted to see.

I understand that many people have better computers and connections than I do, but the simple fact is that most do not. I expect you're considering this all very carefully, so please, when you choose your advertising content do so with care, with an eye for bandwidth and processor requirements, and try to preserve the fast-loading, sleek BBC website I've grown to love.

  • 160.
  • At 06:38 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Nigel Nicholson wrote:

I wish someone had thought to use public revenue to serve world-wide BBC audiencies, and have H.M. Govt. count it as part of UK Foreign Aid.

The best way to serve the world may be to give them something you are good at.

  • 161.
  • At 06:51 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Morena wrote:

I live in Canada and the BBC news site is my homepage. I'm happy to endure advertisements, just as I do when I watch the BBC News on television, in order to continue to have access to this excellent service.

  • 162.
  • At 06:56 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Bill wrote:

I have to agree with posts #65 and #134.

I can accept the funding issues. But, I'd rather pay for a subscription, thank you.

I am in the US and get my news first from the BBC. In particular, I like the outside-looking-in viewpoint, as it is not so beholden to the commercial or political interests as our domestic news media are.

How long until the BBC becomes subservient to the advertisers? Welcome to the US, have a nice day.

My I recommend to any British people who travel regularly, or who are thinking of an extended stay abroad, don't buy a television licence whilst in the UK.., our custom is clearly not appreciated

  • 164.
  • At 07:09 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Tim Brookshaw wrote:

As a Brit who has lived in the US for almost 30 years (with 5 years back in the UK over the millennium) I am used to seeing BBC World TV news with advertising on BBC World in the early evening, and - bizarrely enough - the same program without advertising 30 minutes later on my local PBS station here in Atlanta, although it is 'brought to you by....'.

I have no problem with the BBC website carrying advertising for overseas users. I access the Telegraph and Times websites every day, and they carry advertising.

So long as the advertising is viewed as a supplementary source of income to offset expenses, and the programming is the product being delivered, then fine. When - as is the case with most TV now - the product being sold is NOT programming to an audience, but the product being sold is an audience to an advertiser, then that is where the idea breaks down.

The question is - can the BBC maintain the former while resisting the financial temptations of the latter?

  • 165.
  • At 07:33 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ami wrote:

An international user, I would *gladly* pay a fee to have full access to the BBC's UK-only web features, which are currently blocked by an IP sniffer. Especially if a drama or music archive is ever made available online, it would be well worth the money for international access and the funds raised could go toward artist and union fees. The BBC should strongly consider more fully exploiting its media assets.

  • 166.
  • At 07:48 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Nadim wrote:

I'm a British citizen living abroad, I pay a licence fee for the TV a keep at my London flat. Why should I have to view ads as well?

  • 167.
  • At 08:01 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • john marsh wrote:

Please offer me a subscription-based alternative whereby I can pay an annual fee to "login" to the BBC website and be spared the commercials.

  • 168.
  • At 08:14 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Alan Austin wrote:

I treasure the BBC world service over the internet and view the prospect of advertising with unveiled disgust. I am more than willing to pay for the service WITHOUT the advertising. (cf Grauniad). Will this be available?

  • 169.
  • At 08:23 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Edward wrote:

Boo! Hiss! Shame!

I truely enjoyed being able to visit the BBC news website without dancing shaddows telling me what a great mortgage rate I could refinance to. (We all see where that led to now don't we.) Do you really want to lower yourselves to this standard???

We in the U.S. can hardly get commercial free anything, which is why I was such a loyal reader of BBC I guess I'll have to go to PBS or now. Alas, is nothing sacred :-(

  • 170.
  • At 08:29 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

I have Firefox and Adblock Plus, so no ads for me, thanks a lot.

  • 171.
  • At 08:29 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • DazzaDog wrote:

I personally do not finding advertising a problem - like many other people have mentioned I'll just block it with my browser should I find it too intrusive.
I am however disappointed, as a Brit living in Canada I do like to keep in touch with life back in Blighty with the English perspective. - But aren't I already contributing with my watching the commercial filed channels BBC world and BBC Canada.
I do hope this is the start of the end of the UK's TV Licence , as stated many times here nothing more than a tax by another name.

  • 172.
  • At 08:46 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • P. Tran wrote:

There is always a countermeasure.

I can ALWAYS use a proxy server located in the UK, and you can't stop me. Or as mentioned earlier, I can really go through the trouble and spoof my IP address. And if I was gonna do that I'd make sure it was one of BBC's own addresses.

Yet another case of a monster corporation trying to dictate who certain information goes to on a open global network. Look, China can't do it, Turner can't do it, Murdoch can't do it and neither can BBC.

I'm not dealing with ads from you or anyone else. I dont use CNN/SABC/ABC/MSNBC and nearly every newspaper in the world's web pages because of the ads. I simply dont use them. If BBC's journalistic quality starts to slip, ill stop using you too, why bother dealing with a proxy when the content sucks?

  • 173.
  • At 08:56 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Saeed wrote:

Both Google and Yahoo do advertising, and though Yahoo's ads are graphical, intrusive and annoying they lag Google in ads revenue.
I hope you will follow Google's model.

Best of luck

Saeed, Toronto

  • 174.
  • At 08:56 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Jean Sandstrom wrote:

I live in the US. I can hardly stand all the adverts that you have to put up with just to have news online. I suppose that is why I have always gotten most of my news from other and exterior sources, such as BBC News. The reporting is above reproach. There has never been any political spin put on any of your articles or videos. I find out more about what is happening in the US when I view BBC than any of those American stations such as ABC, NBC, or CBS. But now I fear that you will go the same route as those corporations because they are at the mercy of their sponsers. They rely on those monies to fund their broadband and television medias and when the sponsers complain or pull funding they are in essence black mailing a corporate giant to roll over and play to their own political agendas.
It's really too bad you are joining this particular club

  • 175.
  • At 09:07 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

I'm an American who became a BBC addict while living in Poland and Hungary. The recently announced job cutbacks worry me much more than the adverts. After all, you need to raise more cash, and it is not really fair for people like me to sponge off the license fees from the UK.

I only hope your personnel cuts won't turn the BBC into another bottom-line focused news source. Please don't turn into an American-style medium!

  • 176.
  • At 09:13 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mr. Anthony Ryan wrote:

Having adverts on BBC websites is a bad idea. Director General Mark Thomson and Sir Micheal Lyons should resign immediately.

  • 177.
  • At 09:26 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

I don't mind advertising -- I use Firefox to block obnoxious (video, flash, etc.) ads, but text and other non-obtrusive stuff doesn't bother me in the least: sometimes I even click on ads, when they seem to sell something I actually want. Conversely, I think I've had pop-up blockers installed for three or four years by now. And the likelihood of individual advertisers impacting the journalistic integrity of the news service can be easily combated with basic ethical guidelines you should have anyway.

I'd just love to see the BBC content international viewers don't have access to. I can see commercial television from here in the US on the broadcaster's website: when I miss an episode of Heroes or Lost it's no big deal (and I doubt that Honda is forcing re-writes of the shows they stick their ads in front of -- and if they did, there are dozens of other potential advertisers in the background: for anything that doesn't violate communal norms, advertiser pressure shouldn't have a substantial impact.) But if I want to see Torchwood, I need to upgrade my cable service at a cost of hundreds of dollars a year, because it's not available online. Similarly, I hope that all the same stories I can see now, are still online. The internet is already international: restricting or changing content arbitrarily based on the user's IP address is silly.

  • 178.
  • At 09:44 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ivan Larosse wrote:

I completely agree with comment 143.

As an international user, I don't expect to reap the benefits of the BBC for free while UK citizens pay for it. But I know that quality, independence, and integrity go completely out the window when advertisers are brought on board. I've always thought of the BBC as a safe haven for independent news, and to that end, I wouldn't mind paying a subscription fee if that's what's necessary to keep the site available to international users. But I don't want to see the integrity of the BBC tarnished do to corporate meddling.

For me, it's either a subscription fee, or addblocker plus!

  • 179.
  • At 09:45 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Chris Smith wrote:

This is a bad short sighted penny pinching decision. I am English but I read the BBC online from America where I live.

The BBC is one of the best pieces of UK projection. And the bbc wesbite not carrying adverts is one of its best features.

UK licence payers should take a broader and longer view and keep it ad free for the whole world.

Not all public space needs to be commerialised. Inevtiably trust and traffic will suffer.


Chris Smith

  • 180.
  • At 09:56 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

We in the US come to the BBC because the product is (sigh, has been) unfettered by the vague influences of advertising, and because BBC provides an enlightened perspective not found elsewhere (many are sick to death of 'faux' news and the like).

Please consider a fee-based membership for those of us who would like to skip the ads. There are many in the US who would be happy to pay, and it is possible that could not only save some jobs and programs at the BBC, but also might keep BBC from sliding down that slippery advertising slope.

I'm ready with my PayPal account when you are!

  • 181.
  • At 10:18 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • David Newhook wrote:

This is a terrible decision by the BBC. The internet an open international platform and politicians should not be allowed to interfere with content that is broadcast on such a global medium. I'm not saying that the BBC is as bad as Google, agreeing to restrict search terms such as 'Democracy' and 'Tiananmen Square' for the internet users of China, but this sends bad signals worldwide. The BBC is one of the most highly respected web sites on the internet and has always set an example of how things should be done. The BBC should continue to publish the same content to all internet users - as they do for listeners of BBC World Service radio.

  • 182.
  • At 10:24 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • joshua bressem wrote:

will we non UK users now be able to have access to the UK only content?

  • 183.
  • At 10:45 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • The Master wrote:

Agree with #173. I am English but living in Europe and would happily pay a reasonably-priced subscription to avoid seeing ads.

Until that becomes possible I will use a UK-based proxy service to appear to the servers as if I am in Britain, as I suspect will many others.

Sadly I will no longer be able to recommend the BBC News website as the best online news provider after this development though. Ads suck, and look awful.

  • 184.
  • At 11:12 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • DJ (Seattle) wrote:

So long as I am not re-routed to BBC.COM, the BBC can have as many adverts as the page can hold. But if I get re-routed, then goodbye, BBC. Pleasure knowing you.

  • 185.
  • At 11:29 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • tom rogers wrote:

Count me in! Anything that helps keep real journalism coming to the public is worth it, to me anyway.

  • 186.
  • At 11:35 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Alexander R. wrote:

This is a terrible change. The BBC was one of the last few bastions one could rely on for reasonably impartial cover of world events.

If I wanted to see or read corporate-dominated news, I would have been using any of the myriad of american news sources. (CNN, etc.)

Likely it is way too late to do anything about this, but I hereby mourn the passing of the only news source I still continued to read regularly.

PS: Do kindly put me in under "international users did INDEED express a strong objection"

  • 187.
  • At 11:42 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Rob Donovan wrote:

Have to say, I wont be coming here so often if its plastered with ads..... (I'm a Brit, living outside GB)

  • 188.
  • At 12:01 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Douglas Herd wrote:

Down here in Sydney, I've started to receive the airline ad. After 50 years of life with the BBC I'm disappointed. I believe you've surrendered part of something that cannot be measured in or replaced by dollars. Sad, sad day.

  • 189.
  • At 12:20 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • susan shalit wrote:

Result: BBC is dependent on the income from the adverts + advertisers withdraw ads when disagree with BBC coverage = the quality and objectivity of the news WILL BECOME MORE & MORE DILUTED - that's how it always works, you Brits are not so special that it won't happen to you....

  • 190.
  • At 12:35 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Tristan Holotnak wrote:

I will gladly donate money to the BBC each month to prevent this from occurring.

  • 191.
  • At 12:37 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Julian Ticehurst wrote:

I'm a UK Citizen now living in Canada. I would rather pay a subscription fee than have to see Ads on the BBC.

The BBC is such a valuable British gift for the world. Please don't cut it back.

I notice there are ads on the BBC world service television channel now. They appear to be high quality 'corporate' marketing but I would rather not have to be distracted by them. They do 'lower the tone'.

Will I need to invest in software that fakes a UK IP address so that can receive the traditional BBC quality ?

I would rather invest directly in the BBC by way of a subscription.

  • 192.
  • At 12:42 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

Ads? Please, no! I have always been attracted to the BBC web pages because of their cleanliness. When I visit the web pages of your rivals, it takes a while for me to locate the actual story amidst all the clutter that they call advertising. I know the entire right half of the BBC web pages are blank but I think it's better that way instead of having the reader bombarded with graphics and moving pictures that will inevitably distract the reader from the news

Washington, DC

  • 193.
  • At 12:45 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Pat wrote:

I'm kind of sad to hear there will be ads on the site.

As an American, I don't pay a license fee for the BBC, but I still read it regularly as it's really the only good source of news in America.

One of the big problems with the media over here is that they all have to answer to various corporations for their content, which limits what they can report on considerably. I hope never to see the same on the BBC.

Too bad you can't just tax America. That would be preferable to losing our last source of objective news.

  • 194.
  • At 01:16 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Ed Manning wrote:

At one stage it looked like free UK Museums would die out, and places started to charge. However, it was not just the economics that defeated it, it was the sense of who we are. In the end we ask for donations, and hope that those who believe in what we stand for will see the benefits of contributing.

The BBC with adverts is not the BBC. In the end hopefully sense will prevail and the only adverts will be, if you believe in what we do please contribute.

What really saddens me is it shows that the BBC (and perhaps the nation at large) has lost a sense of who it is and why it exists. I hope that it will regain it soon.

  • 195.
  • At 01:34 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • abi gassmann wrote:

Reading these comments, I am more confused than ever. As an ex-pat, I was DELIGHTED that choosing the digital option on my cable service gave me access to more BBC channels.

I already live with a horrendous amount of advertising on various European commercial channels.

BBC World has advertising, not much and not overly intrusive, and I don't think it influences programming. Personally, if I get the programmes, I will put up with the adverts. Kept in proportion.

It would be extremely sad and a loss to the whole world if the true excellence of BBC productions were to be lost.

I can't even start to mention the programmes which are sold to other stations around the world.

If it takes a few adverts to keep that going, maybe that is the price we all have to pay.

In passing, the BBC World Service has probably done more for democracy than anyone else. Information at grass root levels is the key.

  • 196.
  • At 01:37 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Jim wrote:

I am sorry that the BBC, which has always had a great news website has taken the first step on the slippery slide greased by profit motives.

I predict that in 2 years this site will look exactly like

Too bad, you had a really great website.

Bye Bye


Washington State, U.S.A

  • 197.
  • At 02:18 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • David Fisher wrote:

As an ex-pat now living in Canada I rely on the BBC News website both for keeping in touch with home and for the best coverage of worldwide news there is. It's only when you leave Britain to live elsewhere that you truly discover what a truly superb service the BBC offer. Almost every colleague I know at work defaults to the BBC for quality multi-perspective journalism. This is my home-page for crying out loud. The idea that this is going to be sullied by advertising truly appalls me. I would be happy to pay a monthly fee (within reason) to keep this advert free. Better still charge me a fee and give me access to all your current progamming for download as well. Maybe the BBC is missing an opportunity here to make up for the loss of licence fee funds. Please please do not descend the slippery slope to commercialism.

  • 198.
  • At 02:36 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

I guess all good things must come to an end. It's a bit of a sad commentary that my family, being from the U.S. have had to turn to the BBC website for our world news. Yet, it's been a thoroughly enjoyable, enlightening, and truly exceptional media experience. Frankly, we feel we are in no position to complain having been the beneficiaries of your good efforts for so long and so we can only thank you and wish you the best of luck. Certainly, you don't need us to point out that one of the characteristics that makes your site so refreshing is the absence of commercialism. When we have on occasion tried to visit US news services we inevitably encounter some sort of advertisement, and, having been BBC devotees for so long, it has always struck us quite literally, as obscene. We hope you can find a way to manage your situation in a way that will enable you to remain distinguished.

  • 199.
  • At 02:50 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Matt Parkes wrote:

I understand the commercial realities, I just hope the advertising will not result in a watered down content, similar to that now found on the broadcast BBC World television - the content of this channel is terrible - the content and actual broadcast time has declined in the past 10 years, partly as a result of advertising slots. There was a time when I would not dream of watching CNN, and that the BBC was the Holy Grail, not any more I am afraid. Sad.

Your news report on this states:

"Overseas readers are more expensive to reach because their computers need overseas servers, and this cost will grow as more video is made available on the site."

Every single part of this paragraph is incorrect.

It is disappointing to see such uniformed and technically incorrect information posted on the BBC site.

Overseas viewers do not need overseas servers. The global root server system mirrors and carries data across the Internet from the point it is served. That is the whole point of the Internet.

How will the cost of reaching overseas viewers grow as the BBC decides to carry more video? Carrying more video will increase bandwidth costs, but it isn't related in any way to overseas viewers.

This whole decision has its merits, but this paragraph lets down the whole strategy.

Like it or not, BBC needs founds. It makes sense to obtain extra revenue from advertising directed at international readers who are not paying for the services. As long the reports are not affected, I am OK with it.
This is not a pink world. Unless We are ready to pay extra on TV license or donate money. I don't want to pay extra.

  • 202.
  • At 07:28 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Nick Mallory wrote:

For those worried about annoying adverts.

Install Firefox as your browser.

Add 'Adblock' and 'Flashblock' as ad-ons and you'll never see an advert again.

If only this worked on all the incredibly irritating adverts currently infesting the BBC's output for its own services.

  • 203.
  • At 08:07 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

So sorry BBC is succumbing to the dark side.

If BBC is making me pay by watching advertising, I'll expect a better product. Today it has seemed as though the BBC website was under a denial of service attack. Even trying to access the low graphics web pages has not been 100% successful. Your advertisers won't think too highly of you if you can't display their ads. Hunh. I guess that means that you'll be spending some of your new found money keeping the advertisers happy.

I guess I'll just have to access the aljazeera website for un-americanized news.

  • 204.
  • At 10:29 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Mark E wrote:

I can't believe the attitudes of some of the comments on here. Pretty much every web site I go to has adverts, it has got to the stage that I pretty much ignore them and don't even notice them.

A large section of the people who read the BBC web site do not contribute to it's running costs, and now when the BBC are putting in minor measures to help cover it's costs they moan because their free lunch is over.

As a personal choice, I prefer adverts to the choice of option subscriptions. Several of the sites I used to use daily moved to a model giving users the choice of "free with adverts" or "monthly subscription" - after a few months more and more content ended up in the "subscription" area which resulted in the free part of the site being only ads and teasers for the content in the full site.

This model is flawed as most people move else where - there is a great deal of competition in terms of content on the web, loyalty doesn't count for much out there.

  • 205.
  • At 11:53 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • webbloke wrote:

oh come ON, a £2bn shortfall to 'fill' according to BBC? lol, there is no way in a zillion years advetising will even fill a 1,000,000th of that amount. web advertising doesnt pay that much.

Sorry guys, but if I was running BBC and I didn't had the money for it, I would do whatever it takes to make sure that a legend such as BBC will keep offering the information.
It is easy to point out how wrong this is. Not easy to defend a strike at the BBC when people are asking for a pay raise or extra budget.

  • 207.
  • At 12:52 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

I think it's about time - currently, the UK's license fee payers are subsidising one of the best (factual or otherwise) websites for the rest of the world. As long as the software supporting this is reliable, and UK-based users don't get the advertisements, this is a logical plan.

If you do not live in the UK, then for the last 9 years or so you have been getting all this content gratis. If, now, you have to see a few adverts as you're not having to pay for the current content through the licence fee, forgive me if I don't feel too sorry for your plight.

And iPlayer content will only ever be (legally) available in the UK, because the BBC only owns the rights to show that content in the UK.

  • 208.
  • At 03:02 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Steve in DC wrote:

This is a mistake and a false economy

The BBC continues to be the most effective and most cost effective tool of international diplomacy the UK has.

As a Brit working in the US for a UK business, I was appalled to see an ad for citi bank preceding a news video clip.

It's a slippery slope - what next? viagra?

US news coverage is in freefall - CNN has followed Fox news. As a result, US decision makers and the intelligensia rely on the BBC - online and through National Public Radio.

You couldn't pay to reach these people.

The BBC's reputation for impartiality should be sacracant. should be the worldservice for the 21st century, not a clone of partisan commercial news.

  • 209.
  • At 03:23 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Chris Melville wrote:

Phil Taylor asks:

"It also seems UK citizens will have to view advertising when accessing the bbc website from abroad - this seems to go against the license [sic] fee principle - how is this being resolved?"

Good question. May I make a suggestion? How about having a membership system, where licence-fee payers link their licence number to their website account - and then when they log in, they get the UK version of the site.

In this manner, members who are accessing the site from abroad will still be able to enjoy the benefits of an advertising-free website - and since such accounts can only be enabled in conjunction with valid licence serial numbers, non-fee-payers abroad could not get around it.

Please pass my suggestion to the relevant people.

  • 210.
  • At 06:08 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • joseph wrote:

I am unsure why people claim that people from outside the UK get the BBC for free.

The Netherlands has BBC1 and BBC2 as part of the standard package of programmes that we pay for, that means we are paying for the BBC, so any other argument is not valid.

As part of my cable package I pay more to also receive BBC3, BBC4 and BBC Prime, this also gives me BBC World (which is wiithout doubt the worst news channel ever) and SKY news.

I feel it is unjust to inflict adverts on me when I view the BBC website, I calculate that I pay around 100 pounds a year for the benefit of receiving these BBC sites.

Even though I pay for these sites, I am deprived of Ceefax, any sports broadcasts on-line and many other UK specific services, so I would imagine that on balance I pay as much as any other UK based person.

I have no problem paying to receive BBC, I would willingly pay a seperate subscription to receive an add-free and full UK version of the BBC website.

Although I am no computer expert, I am sure that my Mac can stop any pop-ups or other advertisment showing on my computer so this advert based version of the website seems rather illogical, and I doubt will earn much revenue for the BBC.

Personally I could not be without the BBC in some form or other, the BBC is not perfect, the BBC has a left wing bias and a strange fetish towards reporting minority views at the expense of the majority.

Yet even though it requires reform it is without doubt the best of any of the broadcasters, and that would not be the case without people paying a license fee of some sort, I understand people saying that the BBC should be subjected to commercial forces, however, the BBC is as much a part of the UK's fabric as fish and chips and we would be much the poorer if it was forced to become the same as all the others.

  • 211.
  • At 08:57 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Terrence Lockyer wrote:

The rationale for introducing advertising on the BBC website for international users at first blush looks unassailable: only UK users pay the licence fee, and they should not have to fund international users (and indeed cannot under the new charter).

But take another look. UK users, who pay the licence fee, not only have access to the BBC website, but also to a whole range of services that are not available to those outside the UK, including multiple television and radio services, and a truly massive volume of programming content.

We benighted souls abroad, if we are lucky, may receive, as part of a commercial subscription service, BBC World, BBC Prime and BBC Food - channels that (apart from World, which is heavy on news and current affairs, and already carries advertising) broadcast only a tiny portion of the BBC's domestic licence-fee-funded content, and tend to repeat the series we do get over and over and over again, with the odd new (to international viewers; but usually a year or more old, if not two or three) programme at any given time.

The simple fact is that international users do NOT enjoy anything like the benefits fee-paying domestic UK users do; nor indeed are we likely to make use of many areas of the BBC website that are concerned with local areas in the UK.

The BBC news website is the source of choice for many of us because (1) it offers the widest content and is truly international in coverage, (2) is fast and has one of the least cumbersome designs, (3) can be relied upon to be available most of the time and not to shift content around at the drop of a hat, and (4) comes from an internationally respected source.

It is also about the only news site that is reliably accessible to those (the majority in developing countries) who still rely on dial-up or slower broadband services.

If these features are removed, reduced or diluted, the value of the BBC website to international users - and the very advantages that have given it the pre-eminent position it currently enjoys - will be lessened. This will harm the BBC brand, making it simply another of many commercial sources, with no particular advantage to users. It may even, as many have noted, raise questions about editorial independence. That, in turn, will inevitably harm the very revenue streams the BBC is hoping to tap by this move.

  • 212.
  • At 10:23 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

I'm UK based, but spend a lot of time in the US, and it's clear that it's the lack of ads that is at least partly responsible for the high regard in which the BBC's content is held across the Pond. And no, Al-Jazeera, whilst a refreshingly unbiased source of news concerning the Islamic world, is nowhere near as strong on other stories - and besides, it's clear which site they've based their news front page on!

We really do live in a world saturated with advertising, spin, marketing and sloganeering - I can even see a gigantic hoarding from my front windows - and against this backdrop of constant pressure to buy things we don't need I don't think the BBC realises quite what an oasis of calm it provides, or how important this is to many of its users. I understand the forces which have driven you to this decision - though I was under the impression web advertising was in major decline anyway - but surely there has to be another way, even if as Ed (#194) suggests, it involves a PayPal button "keep the Beeb ad-free by donating here" or whatever.

And of course another problem with flashy Java-based graphical / banner ads is that they take time to download - they can slow even relatively recent machines down to a crawl and even crash browsers. In the UK and US we take modern computers and fast connections for granted but there are huge parts of the world where this is not and probably never will be the case; and it would be a real pity if, for instance, users of the One Laptop Per Child project were denied reliable access to your pages because their machines lacked adequate memory to run some graphics-heavy banner ad.

Well, I know that all this is in vain - the decision has already been taken, and the BBC at a structural level is not a democracy however much individual sections may try to engage with their audiences. So may I leave you with one final plea - think very carefully about the type of adverts you accept, and whereabouts on the site you choose to display them. Some people have suggested Google-style 'targetted' ads but I actually think this would be disastrous - I'd rather not see the Health pages disfigured by, for instance, the endless dieting and Viagra commercials which have found their way onto every other site; adverts for loans and credit cards on financial stories or for that matter those promoting gambling, adult services etc on any part of the site.

Believe me, you're not that desperate.

  • 213.
  • At 07:19 AM on 20 Oct 2007,
  • James Hodges wrote:

I'm in the USA and don't care how many ads the BBC place - as long as I and other overseas users can have live Test Match Special and Premiership radio feeds. If by having the ads overseas readers are contributing to the costs, then whay can we not have the aforementioned service?

The BBC is listened to by so many of us in australia,that the prospect of it going commercial appals all. The ABC& SBS in australia is but a pale shadow of the BBCs quality. I am sure that if it is possble to pay towards the BBC programmes,e would be only too grateful to do so. So good luck to fans of the BBC.Regards Henry

  • 215.
  • At 04:41 PM on 20 Oct 2007,
  • Milos Milosev wrote:

Unlike many others here, I for one do not object to the ads. Somehow you just learn to accept them for what they are and ignore them. Also, I don't feel comfortable with the idea of UK taxpayers paying for what I read free of charge (we have a similar "license fee" for our national television here and it's daylight robbery). However, what scares me is the prospect of a "BBC.COM". Does that mean I will not be able to access news on the "" site? Will my version be a diluted international one? Because if this is the case, I think I shall be taking my business elsewhere. I truly enjoy the BBC as a source of news about the UK; I am a translator and your site really helps me stay in touch. But if international news is all I can hope to have on this site, I won't bother to visit anymore, thank you very much.
A Voice from Serbia

  • 216.
  • At 10:50 PM on 21 Oct 2007,
  • John wrote:

I agree with a number of expat posters here - it makes me weep that I cannot get 5Live or Radio Scotland for live broadcasts because I live in America. I would gladly subscribe and pay to have access to these quality outputs.

Whilst many resent the license fee I don't think many people in the UK appreciate just how global and brilliantly unique the BBC is! The BBC is one of the few things that make me proud to be British. For those who decry the BBC just wait until all you have is commercially driven news. There is no news on regular US TV, only sponsored opinion.

  • 217.
  • At 03:59 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • Adam Dorrell wrote:

I'm an expat living in Amsterdam, with most of my news coming from, and really appreciate the radio and ListenAgain features.

I wanted to inject some numbers in to the debate (a few minutes of research only - feel free to correct me). BBC budget per year is around £4bn (from Wikip). In 2006 web was just under 4% of total BBC expenditure. Web spending this year will be £400m (from

World Service radio budget is funded mainly from UK Foreign Office at around £250m - probably seen as by the government as a low cost way of marketing UK Plc (I think so too). World Service listeners: 163m per week.

So how much does the BBC need to raise on non-UK web visitors to keep critics and internal goverance happy? I suggest that a contribution of £50 - 100m would fund a "World Service Web".

In my opinion, the Foreign Office should stump up 50% (or say, £50m) as way of spreading "Britishness" around the globe. (FYI: Planned spend for the UK on countering terrorism will be £3.5bn a year by 2010, Or you could be less political, and say that is probably earned in a few days from tourism taxes.

The other £50m should come from subscriptions or paid-for downloads. £1 a year from each web viewer, or world service listener would be a better way of funding.

Please keep at least the news pages of ad-free. The BBC is unique, and really one of the reasons I still feel OK being British. And probably why I have never had to really learn a foreign language!

  • 218.
  • At 05:48 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Lisa wrote:

I certainly don't mind seeing advertisements on pages if that is the best solution.

However, I hope that accessing the BBC from the states won't relegate me solely to the "International version," which I never read. I use the UK version to keep up on what's going on in England and Wales. As a student, I also make use of the History and Learning channels.

The BBC web site is possibly one of only two in existence that I would willingly pay extra -- such as the International license others have discussed -- in order to enjoy full, ad-free, access.

  • 219.
  • At 04:30 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Susan Boakes wrote:

When are standards going to improve in the media with regard to grammar and spelling? I cite as an instance the article on Elizabeth I today: Elizabeth & Lester?? Surely anyone who knows anything about English history and historical names knows that it is spelt Leicester?

  • 220.
  • At 11:08 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Stian Sandberg wrote:

While this is not an ideal solution for me personally, I completely understand the motivation behind, and am more than willing to contribute to the finances of the wonderful BBC News site.

My own national public broadcaster (head to for evidence) has made no issue whatsoever out of stuffing their site with advertisements aimed at people who actually DO pay their license fee, so you can imagine my fascination with the BBC when they actually polled me - a non-paying user - how I would feel about an ad-supported site. It certainly goes some way to show the respect they have for their audience.

Many thanks for all your comments. I have responded to two of the most frequently made points here.

  • 222.
  • At 07:03 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • Dan Lane wrote:

Thank you BBC for the quality of content presented on your web page.
I was especially appreciative of the low graphics formatt for my former MAC. Please keep up the good work.

Dan Lane

  • 223.
  • At 07:44 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • Aaron Lambert in the US wrote:

I'm a Brit living in the US, and I certainly would welcome the opportunity to contribute financially to the upkeep of the BBC (as I would if at home) but advertising is my least preferred method - I would prefer (the option of) a subscription model, as others who have commented above.

It seems this could be a first for the BBC, in that content with advertising (BBC World, etc) has until now been split off from content without advertising (BBC UK terrestrial channels, website, etc). Now the content is to be THE SAME (or very nearly so, and produced by the same department), but appearing in one place with advertising, and in another place without.

This could function to help prevent the content being watered down or affected in other ways by advertising (as you have e.g. on US news websites) which some people have worried about, but it could also have the opposite effect (at the same time) - putting pressure on the DOMESTIC editing policy to change content to suit advertisers that are not even advertising on the domestic website.

I doubt (perhaps over-optimistically?) this second danger is very real - the BBC staff, at least the *reporting* staff (not so sure about editors and producers) tend to be a principled lot (just look at Jeremy Paxman). No-one will tolerate any sort of visible change to domestic newsgathering and editing for the sake of advertisers overseas who are not even represented in the UK (by the BBC). The fact that the internet newsroom, the radio newsroom (including world service?), and the tv newsroom are all to be integrated into a new multimedia newsroom (on balance a good thing) will further offset this danger, since the latter two departments are domestic-only.

I would agree *very strongly* with earlier comments about not making the bandwidth hostage to advertisers, even if the BBC content remains free of their influence. Not just for the sake of people on low-bandwidth connections, but for the sake of everyone. Keep the BBC website unique among news websites by keeping the advertising "lite". You could incorporate a policy that restricts advertisers to some suitable (and small, please) fraction of total bandwidth for any particular webpage. Make the advertisers themselves work within that restriction, and force them to come up with creative ways of minimising its effects to them. Above all, stay independent!

And do consider offering an alternative subscription model. I'd be happy to pay the equivalent of today's licence fee to get access to even the small minority of BBC programmes I like to watch (e.g. Newsnight on a high-bandwidth stream, Panorama, Question Time) as well as an advertising-free BBC website.

Thank you!

(And please don't touch the BBC Radio Player. It's magic!)

  • 224.
  • At 11:19 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Bill fox wrote:

Just read two sports stories this am both of which had glaring errors. The story about A-Rod leaving the NY Yankees during the Red Sox win against the Rockies states the Red Sox won the world series 4 - 3, the score was actually 4 - 0. And the story about Glasgow Rangers not blaming fatigue for loss to Dundee Utd states Rangers have only taken 1 point from previous possible nine, but Rangers defeated Celtic 3 - 0 last saturday to pick up all three points. Don't expect to see these kind of basic mistakes on the BBC.

  • 225.
  • At 11:00 AM on 31 Oct 2007,
  • Sreekumar wrote:

This seems to be a very good decusion on the 10th anniversary of BBC website. Since BBC is having a lot of international listeners, this move help to increase the popularity of the website.

But I am confused by the statement that this will not be accessible to people in UK. Does it mean that any one residing in UK can't access this...?

  • 226.
  • At 05:27 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • david evans wrote:

The BBC news home page this morning carries three simultaneous adverts for Airbus. I have moving images on the top and to each side of the page. If this is Mr Sambrook's idea of adverts not being intrusive, he's using a different definition of the word to the rest of us. And yes, of course it detracts from the editorial content. If it comes down to money, as it does for say CNN, then heaven help us, because if they are indeed 'the most trusted name in news', the terms trust and instrusive are both being redefined.

David Evans

  • 227.
  • At 09:38 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

This is totally the correct decision. Editorial content will not be affected in the slightest as it will still be the same advert free BBC providing the content(for UK TV licence fee payers) - the only difference is that non-licence fee payers will now see the very same content with some advertising to help offset the costs the BBC webite incurs from the bandwidth usage of international users who do not contribute finacially to BBC. Internet bandwidth is not free - why should UK TV licence fee payers subsidise non-UK, non-licence fee payers? You get the same content in an unbaised manner except it will be served to you via a seperate commercial wing of BBC but the actual content originates from advert free BBC UK and therefore remians unifluenced by advertising.

  • 228.
  • At 05:22 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Seeing adverts on the homepage shocked me. How long before we get those awful hotmail/yahoo-style advertising pop-ups that obscure the page - you know the ones that usually contain audio as well and make you jump out of your chair?

I am sick to death of advertising .. I don't want to buy any of their cr@p. And the more they continue to thrust stuff in my face, the more resentful I become. If I want something I'll go look for it. Otherwise leave me the h3ll alone. Okay!

Moving out to Australia recently I really appreciate how much better things are in the UK. Out here everythings much more American - the advertising is loud, incessant and mighty irritating. The worst thing I've seen is they even embed shopping channel-esque slots in morning TV where the presenters engage with the sales folk as if they were guests on the show. How sneaky and evil is that?!

Advertising is the road to ruin... we must resist.

  • 229.
  • At 08:38 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

I understand the arguments in favour of websites, but please can they not be animated? It's incredibly hard to read text that's presented alongside moving displays.

  • 230.
  • At 09:16 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Ian Buckley wrote:

I'm with David Evans on this, the new advertising banners that have appeared on the BBC news site in the last 48hours are distracting to the utmost. A final nail in the coffin perhaps in favor of the Guardian, which is also these days hosting the most splendid news related video footage.

What is with all this talk of the BBC's moral rights to make a buck off there international services?? Does anyone remember the world service and its role in global democracy and literacy?? Radio dials that instead of listing frequencies, listed key European stations so that you could listen to the perspectives of other countries on the issues of the day? I guess if the BBC will no longer be a flagship of the English language abroad then all those mono-lingual Brit holiday makers will finally have to pay some attention at school in their French, German and Spanish lessons if they want to continue to be able to communicate there need for "OY!, Another beer mate".

Pathetic!. How many more years before the BBC is just another profit hungry media corporation listed on an American stock exchange and churning out sensationalized news bulletins?

  • 231.
  • At 09:29 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • N. Nell wrote:

These "non-intrusive" adverts just freaked me out so much that I started Googling to find out which virus my computer had been attacked by and ended up on this page. I am totally shocked to read that this is no virus but a planned and accepted policy on behalf of the BBC. Being an ex-pat, I view(ed) the BBC and its website as a lifeline to "my" culture and language, an oasis of peace, authority and impartiality in a digital world of chaos and commercialism. And now? Now I can't concentrate on what I'm reading because I am constantly being distracted by moving images, left, right, above offering things I don't need and for which I did not log on to I think it is a sad day. I have access to BBC1 and BBC2, but have stopped watching the news because of the dumbing-down and excessive use of computer graphics to "illustrate" stories (outbreak of swine fever - here is a picture of a pig, just in case you don't know what one looks like). Where can I go now for my sanity?

  • 232.
  • At 02:18 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Alan Pollard wrote:

Agree with the chorus of other expats....we're one constituency who would actually be HAPPY to pay a license fee (as we experience broadcasting where advertising is the primary form of funding).
Please look into making ad-free access with a subscription available to *all* content (i.e. include the iPlayer).

  • 233.
  • At 10:34 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Adam Steinert wrote:

Flash ads? On the BBC? The pits. I get ads for airlines and watches, and I consider them intrusive at least. Presumably Sambrook's use of "highly intrusive" is studied, as just plain old intrusive is fine for people outside the UK.

The World Service had a remit, and it ought to be extended to the Web. Since when were public duties owed only and exclusively to the locals? Is the next step deathly-dull ads on Radio 4 when we listen online from an IP address outside the UK? Am I tempting fate? Where can I sign a petition?

  • 234.
  • At 02:44 AM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • miles wrote:

(Part-time ex-pat in Canada)

I'm with Adam, I understand and appreciate the position the BBC is in and I think advertising is a good solution but the implementation of these ads is horribly intrusive.

I really hope the site managers reconsider the way in which advertising is displayed for international visitors. I visit the site several times a day, not just to keep in touch with home news but because the BBC has the best international coverage available, and I just can't see myself getting used to the ads, not as they are.

The one in the header has to go, I think I can live with the right side ad and the small left column one, but please, not animated ads!

  • 235.
  • At 05:19 AM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • SG wrote:

These 'adverts' have now ruined what was formerly a good source of information. The animated advertisements are an eyesore and clearly a distraction for anyone viewing the pages.

While it was announced that these would be present on selected pages, I have yet to see an advert-free page.

It very much looks like I will have to go elsewhere to read news and sport items.

  • 236.
  • At 09:00 AM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • F.G. wrote:

Same as #210 I am an British expat living in the Netherlands and deliberately take the more expensive digital package on a more expensive provider in order to receive BBC1, 2 ,3 & 4. The BBC presumably receives a return for this subscription which is akin to the license fee in the UK.

Therefore it is like rubbing salt into the wound that I cannot access all online services as per UK license payers (e.g. iplayer, BBC 5 Live, etc) and yet have to be lumbered with adverts as well as paying a subscription.....

Maybe the Beeb (and some of the persons making incorrect comments e.g. #207) can consider this.

Keep the ads by all means but then give "foreign subscriptees" the same access rights to content in return.

  • 237.
  • At 08:50 PM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • J.B. wrote:

I understand the BBC's reasons for beginning to show adverts, but I wish they weren't so...obvious. When I logged into the BBC site this morning, I couldn't help but be distracted by the flashing ad for a Swiss watch. Rather than placing the ads on every page, why not make it so they appear only in between articles as individuals browse through them? I think that would resolve a lot of the complaints regarding the adverts.

  • 238.
  • At 09:25 PM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • Sadie wrote:

How sad that the BBC has decided to include these intrusive adverts on their news website.
May I quote from Media Guardian Wednesday June 28, 2006
"Mr Smith said the advertisements would be "low key" and limited to "still ads" that appear in the middle of online articles. There were no plans for pop-up or banner ads, the most common advertising formats for online publications."

So please explain why your adverts are animated and banners! The banner at the top is particularly irritating.

Please be aware that many international users pay to receive BBC TV (in some cases, we pay a lot more than the UK licence fee!)

  • 239.
  • At 02:10 PM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • Fay Robinson wrote:

Living in Canada, I too was assaulted by the over-animated header, footer and both side panels for the Airbus advertising on the BBC International site. I am hoping this was a one-off as I have not seen them since. That amount of banner advertising is far too intrusive. I hope the BBC will take a more tasteful approach to its advertising by only using a right-hand panel with none or limited movement!! I am certainly not against the BBC obtaining revenue but would ask they employ their "artistic" director for what is appropriate!!**!!

  • 240.
  • At 02:38 PM on 10 Nov 2007,
  • Peter Thompson wrote:

"Bombarded with an advert"??
I'm not sure if Roy was being tongue in cheek or not.

Let's get things in proportion - I never noticed the adverts for a day or so, so intrusive are they. I was more concerned about the introduced extra delay before the page loaded fully, and the white space at the top of the page.

  • 241.
  • At 07:10 PM on 13 Nov 2007,
  • Ged Read wrote:

I have no problem with the BBC advertising to make money and provide a better service. However, I do object to the animated adverts, which are distracting when trying to read.

I would pay the fee to view the BBC website adverts free, and an extra fee if I was able to view streaming content from abroad, or listen to better quality (higher transfer rate) radio programs.

With everyone willing to pay towards the removal of adverts and for extra services, it seems a good idea to investigate this and put a trial in place to see if it is feasible.

I believe the BBC would end up with more money than the current advertising option can provide.

  • 242.
  • At 07:39 PM on 23 Nov 2007,
  • Roger Witte wrote:

If you are prepared to invest in the technology to determine the browser location (as opposed to the ISP, the proxy server, the router or any other node between the user and you) then fine. Otherwise you should show adverts to everyone or noone. As things stand, you are not meeting your obligations to license fee payers or to overseas visitors; you are demonstrating that the law is being overtaken by technology to such an extent that a new settlement on how to fund the BBC (if at all) is required. You need to think very carefully about the political consequences of any approximations that you make due to technological limitations. (The initial non-availability of iPlayer to non-windows platforms is another example of this combination of being not quite technologically sophisticated enough to avoid political naivity.

  • 243.
  • At 06:17 AM on 25 Nov 2007,
  • trickyflyingdave wrote:

The television license is for television sets not computers so why not let everyone see these advertisements especially as the British license payers are NOT paying for this net service?

My brilliant advice is simple and effective. Put the adds on a seperate page. If they are creative/beautifull/attractive enough people will go to the adds.

Let real artists i.e. not postmodern "conceptual" artists play with the adverts page.

Be a leader and not a follower again.

Give me the job. I am brilliant.


  • 244.
  • At 03:52 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • j wren wrote:

One of the features that made the BBC world news a great news site was the lack of advertising. It is shameful that the editorials are not always lucid and at times the discussions on "have your say" tend to be vapid and more toward political correctness that reality. Those failings can be changed with a change in moderators.
It is a shame that a once balanced media outlet has let itself be dragged under by an apparent rabid search for profits.

  • 245.
  • At 01:04 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

It's truly awful one cannot bypass these omnipresent commercials. I watch my news on because I do not have a television nor do I want one. I should have the option to watch or bypass an advert/commercial on your website. I want the news and nothing more.

  • 246.
  • At 12:43 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Jordan Dias wrote:

Richard - I'm a UK user, based in the UK, looking at the UK version of the front page. Why on earth am I getting adverts?

  • 247.
  • At 08:14 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • philip mac wrote:

Specifically I am talking about the banner adverts, across the top of the page, which are for other BBC services. (For example, BBC WORLD FAST:TRACK or something.)

These are first of all amazingly ugly adverts. Incredibly so.

They are also amazingly distracting, and partly broken too it seems.

The page will initially load as normal, but there will be a space where this hideous advert will go at some point in the future. Then some awful bright purple advert pops in there, that does not fit in at all with the rest of the page.

Then if you are unlucky another copy of this same hideous advert plasters itself over the red BBC banner obstructing this, and the date at the top of the page.

I would really advise you as strongly as I can to remedy some of these issues, as you have taken a very classy, well put together site to tackiness in one movement.

(I run Firefox browser if this is any help. And being told "Run IE" is not a solution.)

  • 248.
  • At 09:41 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • Brian Blake wrote:

Presumably the BBC World Service exists to influence the rest of the world with the "British" point of view. Why else is this funded without advertising revenue?
The incremental cost of making the "home" BBC website available to a larger group is very small. Why not drop the "international" presentation to save costs - we don't need it.
What we really don't need is turning the BBC into a glorified CNN.

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